Contractor Andrew "Jack" Whittaker plans to plow more than $30 million from his $170.5-million jackpot Powerball lottery prize into his two construction companies. The money will allow him to bid larger jobs in his home state of West Virginia, he says.
Whittaker, 55, of Scott Depot, W. Va., won the Powerball prize on Christmas Day and chose to take a lump-sum payout of $170.5 million instead of receiving 30 yearly payments totaling $314.9 million. After taxes, Whittaker will clear $113.4 million. He received a $103.4-million check from lottery officials on Jan. 15 after earlier receiving $10 million.
In addition to his two contracting companies, Diversified Enterprises and Road Crossing Engineering, both in Scott Depot, Whittaker also owns Whittaker Equipment. He has been in construction since he worked with his father doing pipeline work at age 14. "I bleed construction...that's what gets me excited," he says. "I would pay somebody to let me do what I do."
Ron Whitney, a 25-year friend and business associate of Whittaker, says the contractor will "still go to work at 5:30 a.m. every morning."
Diversified Enterprises had revenue of $17 million in 2002 and had peak employment of 117, Whittaker says. The firm performs mostly water and sewer line work. It also builds water treatment plants for municipal and federal agencies and churches and commercial buildings.
The $30 million will capitalize Diversified's expansion into roadbuilding and will provide capital to complete larger projects, Whittaker says. "I never had the capital to bid $25-million to $50-million jobs before. Now I do," he adds. "I'll put on about 200 more employees probably."
Road Crossing Engineering does small-diameter tunneling work for large sewer and highway projects. That firm and the equipment dealership have combined revenue of about $1 million a year. Whittaker also used his winnings to buy a $50,000 contract from a struggling company and is evaluating two other contracts, he says.