Carrollton lottery winners "won't be buying any Porsches"

By Marcus K. Garner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 18, 2008

Frank Mack Skinner's family regularly bought Georgia lottery tickets to contribute to the HOPE Scholarship fund.

But after claiming the $133 million lottery jackpot Thursday, they plan to use the winnings to pay for education for more of his family members.

“We bought the tickets primarily to help kids go to college,” Skinner said from his kitchen Thursday night. “Now, we're going to make sure the lives of our grandkids and future grandkids are taken care of.”

But the 60-year-old Carrollton native, who will split the more-than $82 million cash payout with his wife and their three children — who are ages 39, 37 and 33 — plans to do more than just that.

“Our goal is to change the lives of our nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters,” Skinner said. “We're trying to help kids that need help.”

Skinner, his wife Phyllis, also 60, and their three children — Lori Ann Higgs, Angela Skinner Murray and Jeffrey Mack Skinner — waited nearly three weeks to tell lottery officials they had the winning ticket. They claimed the prize as a corporation called Carrollton SHM LLC.

“We bought the ticket as a team effort,” the Skinner patriarch said, saying buying lottery tickets as one unit had become a family tradition.

The family put off coming forward as winners to have time to “notify our financial advisers,” he said. “And we were worried about the safety of our grandkids and nieces and nephews.”

But news about their winnings got out around Carrollton last week.

The family partnership, he said, was a result of the poultry processing plant his father formed in the 1940s. That plant is now part of the Pilgrim's Pride chicken company.

Financial experts say that claiming the multi-million-dollar lottery jackpot as a corporation was a shrewd decision.

“The prize can live on, even if one of them should die,” said Professor Tom Smith of Emory University's Goizueta Business School. “This is a smart move for them.”

Skinner, a retiree and part-time investor {representative} for Primerica Financial Services, said he knew to be smart with the money. “We're not going to be on ‘Oprah' or ‘Jerry Springer' five years from now because we're broke,” he said.

Financial adviser J. Michael McCarthy suggested that the family could actually “pay themselves” indefinitely if they invested their winnings wisely.

“Let's say they each have $15 million,” McCarthy said. “A 5 percent annual return gives you about $750,000 per year. It may be a bit of a stretch since they don't have a business, but they can [each] pay themselves a salary.”

Another benefit of incorporating is that each member is protected from lawsuits, Smith and McCarthy pointed out.

Skinner said the money won't change his family.

“We won't be buying any Porsches or anything like that,” he said. “My wife wants to keep her $28,000 a year job at [Carrollton] High School.”

Although he hasn't collected his winnings yet, he did splurge on one long-time big-ticket item: Season tickets to the Falcons; 24 of them, for his family. “It's the only thing I've ever wanted,” Skinner said.