Iowa Powerball winner is 'a real, small-town Iowa person,' family and friends say
For decades, Lerynne West and her three daughters never had a house they could truly call their own. West, who raised her kids in Dexter, always had to rent until just recently, when she purchased a home in Redfield.
Now, West is a multi-millionaire after winning a Powerball jackpot of $343.9 million from a ticket purchased from a Redfield Casey's General Store.
And she deserves it, family and friends say.
"She's a great mom," said her daughter, 24-year-old Skylar West. "You can't put into words all the good qualities she has and all the things she would do to help us out."
Growing up in Earlham, West was raised with seven siblings and attended Earlham High School until she left at 17. Two years later, she earned her G.E.D. She went on to work at local factories.
Her brother, Brett Haynes, said she's always been a small-town girl.
The two grew up together in Earlham, a town of under 1,500 people, just southwest of Des Moines.
"Just a real, small-town Iowa person," Haynes said. "She raised three kids on her own."
It was Brent Haynes' birthday when his sister called to give him the news. At first, he didn't believe her.
"I thought it was a birthday prank," he said. "It's always fun to dream about that stuff. It just doesn't happen in Iowa."
As a single mom, West was the one who drove her daughters to their daily activities, scolded and praised them, and took the time to make their meals.
During the daytime she would work to make ends meet and at night, she attended school.
"She sacrificed a lot for us to make sure she could give us the best life that she could," Skylar West, 24, said.
And no, the three sisters also didn't believe their mom won the lottery.
"It really couldn't have happened to a better person," Sydney West, 26, said. "Coming from a small town, it's still very humbling."
West's friends who've known her for 30 years said she is the best person to get the money.
"I know she'll do right with the money," said her friend, Ruth Easter. "Single mom does good. She deserved it."
West isn't the only winner jackpot — the Iowa State Treasury will also make $9.9 million in taxes off her win.
"That’s always beneficial for the state when we have a winner in the state of Iowa," said Terry Rich, CEO of the Iowa Lottery.
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