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Waiting for $590 Million Powerball Winner; Half-Mile Wide Tornado Hits Oklahoma; Race, Responsibility and Reaching Back; Standoff Ends in Tragedy

Aired May 20, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me.

The Florida Lottery Office is now open waiting for whoever has that winning $590 million Powerball ticket to cash it in. Just one ticket matched all the numbers Saturday to win the record Powerball jackpot, the second biggest in U.S. history.

At the peak of sales this weekend, states like Texas and California were reportedly selling more than a million dollars worth of tickets every hour.

Sara Ganim joins us now from the Publix in Florida. That Publix sold the winning ticket. Everyone wants to know, did the winner appear yet?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Carol, that's the question that you can really bet on today. Everyone wants to know who is the winner? And we don't know yet. We just talked to a woman the Secretary of the Florida Lottery. There is no verified winner quite yet. But I've got to tell you this Publix behind me, this is the local Publix in a community of about 13,000 people.

So a lot of people are here in this parking lot wondering and telling CNN, hey I'm wondering, is it my neighbor, is it my friend? But we really just don't know yet.

Let me give you some idea of what this means for the winner. This is like you said $590.5 million if that person were to take the cash payout $376.9 million. That's the 3rd largest jackpot ever.

Now the biggest was $656 million. But that was a different lottery. That was a different jackpot, the Megamillions game. And that was in March of 2012, split by three people and that's important because this lottery actually, this jackpot is a history-maker because it is a single ticket winner. One person is going to walk away or one group, one ticket won this giant rich, rich jackpot, Carol.

COSTELLO: I know it defies words. It does. I -- just can't imagine winning. And you know had no one picked the winning numbers this time the jackpot would have been I think on Saturday almost a $1 billion dollars -- something like $935 million. GANIM: That's right.

COSTELLO: It's mindboggling.

GANIM: It absolutely is. And you know, I talked to that woman from the Florida lottery. She said they were selling something like $45,000 -- 45,000 tickets every hour in the state of Florida alone, just an enormous amount of people going to -- to buy, because the jackpot was so big.

Now an interesting fact this person, whoever the winner is, they don't have to come out right away. We might not know who they are for a while. They have 60 days to claim this prize. If they want the cash payout and the -- the Florida Lottery actually recommends that they take some time. Not to come out right away. Take some time, talk to a lawyer. Talk to a financial adviser. Keep this as close to the vest for as long as possible.

Florida law does say that it becomes an open record. It becomes open. But you don't have to put your name on it if you put it into a trust or if it goes to a group. So there is kind of a loophole there to maintain your privacy.

COSTELLO: Yes man, I would do that. And I would go into hiding. There is no way. I'm just imagining all the things, oh, my goodness.

GANIM: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Sarah Ganim, thanks so much.

Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, digging out and hunkering down just as the nation's mid-section cleans up from a rash of tornadoes, more violent weather -- more violent weather bears down today. We'll have the latest for you.


COSTELLO: This morning we have some new video to show you of some of the tornado damage scattered across Oklahoma and several other states. This is Little Axe, Oklahoma, where homes have been blown off their foundation and reduced to absolute rubble. Oklahoma's governor has declared a state of emergency for 16 counties. She will tour the areas later today.

I want to take a closer look at these weekend storms because they were vicious and also the threat that hangs over the damaged zone today. Meteorologist Indra Petersons looks at the volatile weather that's now taking shape and Chad Myers is here to break down yesterday's outbreak of tornadoes.

And Chad, I want to start with you because there were so many reports of tornadoes over the weekend.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes 24 yesterday alone Carol, although really only seven what we call parent storms. A parent can have more than one sibling, more than one child, and so these parent storms actually have probably more than one tornado kind of skipping along a little bit. That's how we get to the number 24 -- 24 reports of damage so far. So Weather Service will go out to see if they are connected by one big long line. A couple of storms as far north is Des Moines right through Wichita and south of there and into obviously Shawnee, the one we focused on and how it developed yesterday.

These parent tornadoes were all by themselves. They became the big dog. They were the super cell tornado not being affected by any other storm out there. You're my age Carol so I'm sure you or your brothers had this game called battling tops. You take a little string you put it around the top and you spin it. And it goes around this bowl and if you just spin one top it spins for forever. So when you put the two or three in there they battle each other, they bounce off each other, and when they do, they don't last as long they fall down, they spin less time. This thing spun all by itself because it was the only top out there -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Oh it's just incredible.

OK, over to you Indra, because the weather is not going to be terribly nice today, either.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No unfortunately, we can see that severe weather potential they are just as dangerous as it was yesterday. In fact look at the area that we're looking at is currently under that severe weather, we're talking 500,000 square miles. That's a good 55 million of you looking at the threat for a severe weather. In fact we still have a moderate risk even in that area today.

Keep in mind, it shifted a little bit farther to the east. So portions of Missouri will currently be under that moderate severe weather threat. But again this is a slow moving system. We've already been dealing with it all throughout the weekend but even into through tomorrow, we're still dealing with a slight risk. And again, even in through Wednesday of course we're talking about diminishing a little bit. But even through Wednesday, we're still seeing that slight risk out there.

Now as we were you mentioning it's all these severe ingredients, a kind of big mixture here of all those perfect elements that are allowing for these violent long lived tornadoes. What do we have we have that warm moist air banking up that cold dry air that's produces the list. We have several elements actually, for lift out there. We even had the low in place as well. And then on top of that, we're talking about that very strong wind, way high up in the atmosphere.

Now, it's just not about just the strong wind, but the direction of the wind, when you have the low level wind and then the mid-level winds and in the upper level winds all coming in different direction. That's what's allowing for that rotation out there. Unfortunately that is still in play today and that's the reason we have this severe weather threat. So hopefully, everyone is paying attention no weather radio and staying vigilant.

COSTELLO: It seems like they are. Thank you so much, Indra Petersons and Chad Myers, thanks so much.

President Barack Obama strikes a very personal tone in his address to the graduates of Dr. Martin Luther King's alma mater. Race and responsibility, a big part of his speech -- so how did that speech go over with the Morehouse men?


COSTELLO: Race, responsibility, reaching back -- those themes highlighted President Obama's commencement speech to the graduates of Atlanta's historically black all male Morehouse college.

In the President's 32-minute address, he got very personal, talking about his own experience of growing up as a black man.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices and I have to say, growing up, I made quite a few, myself. Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just as another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency sometimes to make excuses for me not doing the right thing, but one of the things that all of you have learned over the last four years is there is no longer any room for excuses.


COSTELLO: So let's talk about the President's speech. I'm joined now by Jason Johnson a political science professor at Hiram College and chief political correspondent for Politics 365. He also has a visiting faculty appointment at Morehouse. Welcome.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS 365: Good morning.

COSTELLO: You don't often hear the President talk like this, do you?

JOHNSON: No, you don't. He occasionally goes into his more personal relationship with the black community when he talks to the NAACP. I didn't think it was a particularly impressive speech but he really did try and connect with the audience more. And that's something rare. We don't see that a lot from Barack Obama.

COSTELLO: Well, I just wondered if the President decide on these themes because of some criticism he got in a Philadelphia paper from a pastor there also a Morehouse grad who said, who called President Obama a president for everyone, except for black people. Do you think that had anything to do with it?

JOHNSON: Yes, it did. It's not a completely illegitimate criticism. Look, Barack Obama stands in front of the Morehouse College and he can talk about his affordable health care plan and he can talk about how he's trying to put people back to work but he says nothing about plus one loans. The recalculation of plus one loans has absolutely decimated HBCUs. He and Arne Duncan have a terrible reputation when it comes to fostering African-American education. The cuts to the Ralph Bunch fellowship for African-American PhDs like myself. So I do think in a lot of ways, Obama has a lot to answer for with the black community. And he didn't do that in that speech yesterday.

COSTELLO: Well, let's listen to more before we criticize the speech further. Here's the President telling graduates not to make excuses.


OBAMA: I understand there's a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse. Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness. Well, we've got no time for excuses not because the bitter legacy of slavery and segregation had vanished entirely -- they have not. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist, we know those are still out there.


COSTELLO: It's interesting to see how various publications characterize this speech. I'm just going to read you a few headlines in more conservative blogs and conservative headlines. This from Real Clear Politic, "Obama: as an African-American you have to work twice as hard as anyone else if you want to get by". That's the headline they chose to run.

The Washington or "The Hill" says, Obama urges Morehouse grads to lead by the power of your example.

From "The Washington Times, "Obama and Morehouse: black men cannot use racism as a crutch". So everyone took from this speech what they wanted to.

JOHNSON: Yes. It's always interesting when Obama speaks, it's this Rorschach test, depending on how you feel about him to begin with. I mean it is true. It's the common theme in a black community. You tend to have to work twice as hard to accomplish half as much. And there are a lot of structural things about racism with loans and college acceptances that prove that to be true.

But I think what is more telling is that Obama spent most of his time talking about individuals and talking about how individuals have to give back. He didn't really talk about structurally the kinds of things that the men from Morehouse can do to change this country to make it better, not just for African-Americans, but for everyone. He said that at the end but he didn't talk a lot about structure.

COSTELLO: Well, do you think from this day forth we will hear more of this kind of speech from the President in the black community?

JOHSON: I doubt it. It would be nice. But I mean I don't see much of a difference between this speech and something I could hear from Clarence Thomas or Ward Connerly (ph). Anyone who had any beliefs that Barack Obama was going to be this progressive force that would stand forward and push for a quality for all people, I think we've learned that lesson now. I think anyone who supported him has learned that lesson now.

And this speech is another example of a kind of boiler plate, makes you feel good, but doesn't change much speeches that Obama gives to black people.

COSTELLO: All right. Jason Johnson. Many thanks for your insight. We appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COSTELLO: A standoff ends in tragedy. A Hofstra University student is skilled by bullets fired by police. A live report from New York next.


COSTELLO: The Hofstra community struggles to understand a tragedy involving one of the school's students. 21-year-old Andrea Rebello was caught in a shootout between Nassau County police and a home invasion suspect. And when it was over, Rebello and the suspect were dead, killed by bullets fired by one of those police officers.

Deborah Feyerick is in New York to tell us how this went down. Good morning -- Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, you know, this is such an incredible tragedy for both the young one woman and also the police officer who was there trying to save her. Now 21- year-old Andrea Rebello is being honored (ph) today, yesterday Hofstra honored her with a moment of silence where everyone remembered the friendly co-ed. Friends and faculty from her former high school describe the college junior as a bright light.


JOVANA ALEJANDRO, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY STUDENT: She was popular. Like everybody loved her. She was sweet.

CAROL CONKLIN-SPILLANE, SHHS PRINCIPAL: What an all around nice young woman she was and how she was looking forward to getting an education and going off to college and making something wonderful out of her life.


FEYERICK: Now the co-ed, Carol, was killed -- was with her twin sister and two roommates. One of them had left the front door open in order to move a car. And that's when Dalton Smith allegedly made his move, a perpetrator, entering the off campus home. Smith was armed. He had been arrested multiple times for robbery with a firearm, demanding cash. He let one of the roommates leave to go to the ATM, apparently threatening to kill her friend if she didn't come back quickly. Instead police called 911. Two police arrived on the scene. They thought it was a robbery, not a hostage situation.

The gunman tried escaping with his arm around Rebello's next, a gun pointed to her head. He was using her as a shield and as the gunman made his way to the door that's when the police officer opened fire -- Carol.

COSTELLO: It's just such a tragic story. The police officer, what happens how? I know there is an investigation under way into how all of this was conducted.

FEYERICK: Right, absolutely. And you know, one of the things is this -- the call came in as a robbery, not as a hostage situation. We know that the police out in that area have a tactical unit, a SWAT team that comes in when there is a hostage situation. The officer is described as inconsolable. He has his own family. And right now, he's on sick leave trying to grapple with this tragedy -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Deborah Feyerick reporting live from New York City this morning.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Alexis Normand is a Canadian jazz and folk singer who has sung her own national anthem since she was a little girl. But her first shot at publicly singing the "Star Spangled Banner," let's just say our national anthem is a lot harder to sing than "O Canada". Here she is before Saturday's Memorial Cup hockey game.


COSTELLO: She remembered the melody, right, just not the verse. She kept going. The audience did help her, though. They sang the lyrics for her, which was very kind of them and most of them laughed and took it with good cheer. But boy, was she embarrassed. She tweeted her apology afterwards saying she was embarrassed and deeply sorry. Later, she told the CBC her nerves got the best of her. She sang "O Canada" perfectly. Thank you.

Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. CNN NEWSROOM continues after a break.