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Powerball jackpot winner dies

Sep 29, 2004, 9:09 am

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Powerball

Melvin Rhodes who won a big Powerball lottery jackpot four years ago has died in Maryville, Tennessee at 78.

Rhodes was a part-time biscuit maker at a McDonald's in Clinton, Tennessee in April 2000 when he won the $80 million dollar jackpot on a ticket he bought in Kentucky.

He lived his latter years in a mountaintop home overlooking Norris Lake.

Melvin's son, Michael Rhodes, remembers the day of the big win. "He come out there and said he'd won and I said, 'You're crazy, dad. You better go and check them numbers again.'"

Michael says the big win didn't change his father. He just did what he always had done, but on a bigger scale.

Rhodes says his father helped start a Lake City home for battered women and contributed substantially to the Ronald McDonald House.

The Genesis Recovery center in Lake City helps men overcome drug and alcohol abuse. It's a costly ministry that relies on donations.

"He blessed us monetarily and really helped us in times that we desperately needed funding,
Dan Shultz said. "He came in one time and talked to the men."

Melvin also helped people get started in business.

The son said the elder Rhodes was a successful businessman in West Virginia for years and worked at McDonald's for five years to occupy his time after retiring.

In the last year, Melvin's health started deteriorating. "He didn't fear death," Michael said. "I think at times, he was longing for it."

Michael says he hasn't had time to review his father's will but he's certain the family will support the charities Melvin held dear.

Melvin Rhodes died of heart failure on September 25th at his son's home. His funeral will be Wednesday afternoon at Jones Mortuary in Clinton. He'll be buried with full military honors.

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