One June 11, 2010, Roy Cockrum had life-saving heart surgery at the Tennessee Medical Center. One the same date four years later the former priest won the largest lottery prize ever to be won by a Tennessee Lottery player.
Earlier this week Cockrum returned to the medical centre. Not as a patient this time, but as a benefactor. The big-winner has not forgotten he would not have been around for his life-changing win if he had not received life-saving surgery; so he has made a donation of $1 million in appreciation of the surgeon who saved his life.
Speaking on Tuesday, Cockrum said: "Dr. Gaines's name is going to be on this gift, but it's for everybody."
When Cockrum won his mammoth $259 million US Powerball prize he vowed to give most of it away to charitable causes. In this instance he appears to have chosen one that is especially close to his heart.
Recalling his arrival at the Medical Center on June 9, 2010, Cockrum said he felt too weak to walk across the room.
"When I left this hospital, I felt great," he said. "I was totally, fully recovered. And I've been trying to think of a way to express my gratitude to the doctors and the staff here for a long time."
Dr. Gaines said the money will be used to recruit "talented" medical professionals, to pay for training expenses, and to fund research projects.
"It has been my pleasure to be Roy Cockrum's heart surgeon and now I am deeply grateful that he has chosen to honor those of us who cared for him with this gift," Dr. Gaines said.