Eileen Havant Townsend, a staff writer for Memphis
magazine and the Memphis Flyer
, normally reports on other people’s 15 minutes of fame. This week she had her own, as the family friend who brokered an appearance on NBC’s Today show for the Robinson family of Munford — John, Lisa, and daughter Tiffany — who had one of three winning tickets for Wednesday’s$1.5 billion Powerball lottery.
Townsend’s father, Joe Townsend, is the Robinsons’ attorney, and, while it got to be known on Thursday that Munford was the site of one of three winners who will share the record PowerBall bounty, it wasn’t until Eileen put a call in to NBC that the identity of the winners would be known — and announced on the show, Friday morning.
"My dad asked me to handle the publicity for the announcement," Eileen said Thursday. "I just googled the phone number for NBC and eventually made it to the right people." After making the connection with the network, the Robinsons and Townsends were on a plane to New York within hours.
A name familiar to Tennessee political junkies enters into this saga. The winning ticket was bought by John Robinson on his way home from work Wednesday at Naifeh’s Food Mart, owned by the family of the longtime Tennessee House of Representatives Speaker Jimmy Naifeh.
Watch the Today Show segment here.