TALLAHASSEE — Orlando dermatologist William Steele, Florida's first Powerball jackpot winner, took home $101 million Thursday.
"I had one of those, 'Oh my gosh' moments,' " Steele said.
He chose a lump sum payment instead of a $189 million jackpot spread over 20 years.
He is the biggest winner of any kind in the Florida Lottery's 21-year history, said lottery director Leo DeBenigno. Steele said he put the ticket in his wallet without checking it until Saturday, while getting ready to attend the studio benefit that features haunted houses and other blood-curdling entertainment to raise money for charity. Hearing the Powerball prize hadn't yet been claimed, he checked his numbers and realized he'd won.
He called a friend and asked him to verify the winning numbers — 12-24-48-50-57 and a 22 Powerball — on the Internet.
"He goes, 'So you got the ticket?' And I go, 'Yeah, I have the ticket,' " Steele recalled. "He goes 'No, you don't have the ticket.' I said, 'I do. I have the ticket.' "
Steele decided against telling anyone else, including his wife, Frankie Summers-Steele, until 4 a.m. the next day.
"I woke my wife up and said 'Honey do you love me?' " Steele recalled. "And she goes 'I've always loved you.' I said 'I love you too. Oh, by the way …' "
Summers-Steele, an inspirational writer and speaker, said she thought he was pulling her leg, but they then spent several days putting together plans for helping their community and family. The couple, married for three years, have children but declined to say how many or what ages.
Steele said he's been involved in charities and wanted to continue supporting them. He said he also plans to set up a charitable foundation next year.
"We pretty much are living our dream already," Summers-Steele said.
Steele said he plans to continue his medical practice "if the public will let me."
A graduate of the University of Iowa's medical school, Steele is founder of Associates in Dermatology, which has nine offices in Central Florida. He is a specialist in microscopic surgery used to remove skin cancer.