Bonner County man mails in $1 million Powerball ticket

Randy Branum, a longtime Sandpoint resident, claimed the $1 million Powerball prize from the Sept. 23 drawing via the U.S. mail, which Idaho Lottery officials said is a common practice for North Idaho residents.

But the value of this ticket was a surprise, according to a Thursday news release. It also was a surprise to Branum, who said he did what he does every month -- mail in a batch of winning tickets, both scratch and draw games, for payment.

“I usually wait a month or two, sign all the tickets I have, and then mail them in,” explained Branum, a retired contractor who usually checks carefully for winners. “This time I had two or three tickets left and just signed them and sent them off. I figured there might be some $7 winners in there.”

When lottery officials discovered the million-dollar winner, they immediately contacted Branum.

“When they called, I thought I’d maybe won the Bronco Bowl Bash, the trip to see Boise State’s Bowl Game this year,” Branum said. “Instead they told me I’d won $1 million. I couldn’t talk.”

“I put my faith in the Idaho Lottery and the US mail that when I send my tickets, they are going to a safe place,” he said. “I trusted them with a $1 million winning ticket and they were honest about it.”

“This is truly a windfall, a gift,” Branum said. "Holy cow."

He and his wife, Colleen, will celebrate their 47th anniversary at the end of November. He said they plan to invest their winnings and enjoy retirement.

“We can live to be 90 now,” said Branum. “And, I’m going to keep on mailing in my winning tickets.”