MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A film crew from The Learning Channel has been following local multimillion-dollar lottery winner Randy Smith around for three days, filming a television episode.
"They're filming for their 'How the Lottery Changed My Life' series," Smith said.
Smith, 63, gained local notoriety last Aug. 23 when he bought a winning $79 million Power Ball ticket at ROCS Mountaineer Mart on Kelly Island Road.
The film crew shepherding Smith around this week included a producer/director, cameraman and a soundman. The crew members declined to identify themselves Friday afternoon during taping in the ROCS store where Smith bought the ticket.
Smith opted for a one-lump payment of $44 million after taxes and has been busy handing out millions to fire, police and ambulance departments, the United Way, Hospice of the Eastern Panhandle, The Martinsburg/Berkeley County Recreation Department and other entities.
In May alone he doled out more than $1 million for snowplow-equipped pickup trucks for six local fire departments, four new ambulances, an armored personnel carrier for use by area SWAT teams and $150,000 for a mobile forensic crime unit for the West Virginia State Police.
Earlier, he donated $5 million to the West Virginia Community Foundation.
Smith, a former two-term Berkeley County sheriff, said the TV crew has been filming him at places where he donated money. He was also filmed at the Blue White Grill, a downtown Martinsburg diner that he frequents.
The film crew Friday afternoon had him re-create his purchase of the winning ticket from ROCS store Manager Sabrina Foster.
The theme Friday was heavily scripted, with Smith following specific cues from the producer/director. He was told where to park his big white Dodge Power Wagon pickup truck to walk into the store, grab a newspaper from the rack, get a drink from the fountain, then head for the counter to pay for his purchases — and buy the lottery ticket from Foster.
The camera and soundmen tracked his every move.
Foster said Smith gave her and her fellow clerks a large tip from his winnings. Neither she nor Smith would say how much.
"Let's put it this way, he was very generous," Foster said.
Smith said he still stops in the store everyday to buy his newspaper, drink and a lottery ticket.
At an earlier stop Friday at the Berkeley County Court House, the crew filmed Smith in his former magistrate's office.
When he learned that day in August that he was holding the winning ticket he said he asked fellow Magistrate JoAnn Overington to take over for him because he knew he could not function after that. He resigned soon after.
No broadcast time has been announced for The Learning Channel production.
Smith, a lifelong Berkeley County resident, lives in the house he lived in before his big win. He said in a May interview that if he wins another big lottery he would be able to give even more money to his community.
He also said in May that his new found wealth taught him something: "Money doesn't make you happier, but it does make living a lot easier."