Tampa lottery winner gives millions to fund education programs

Image 1 of 8

A Tampa lottery winner is following through on his promise to give back toward education.

Krishna Barri won the Florida Lotto $14.5-million jackpot in December, and he is using his winnings to pay it forward in his home country and in Hillsborough County.

“I don’t want to waste money. I want to spend the money for the right cause, and that's the education. Education is the best gift,” said Barri.

FOX 13 first spoke to Barri after he won the jackpot. His goals then are becoming reality now, including a trip to his home country and meeting with the chief minister of a state in India.

“I met him, and I donated $36,000 toward the health of poor people,” said Barri.

RELATED: Tampa man putting $14.5 million lottery win toward education for others

He also set the groundwork for more, setting aside $500,000 in academic scholarships for students there.

“I struggled so much. I know what they are going through. I was on the other side a few years back,” said Barri.

While Barri didn’t forget his roots, he recognizes what his new home in the U.S. gave him.

“It gave me an education, a great job and everything. So, I thought I need to do this for this country too,” said Barri. “This country gave me so much, and I have to give something back.”

So, he established $500,000 in scholarships named after his brother-in-law and his parents to support his alma mater, USF’s College of Engineering where he graduated with a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

“It will sponsor three Ph.D. students every year,” said Barri. “I could not do my Ph.D. because at that time my priority was to get a job because of my responsibilities, and I want to provide that opportunity to others.”

It’s a financial windfall toward education that is just the beginning.

“I’m going to grow that with the help of my friends and my family and the profits from my company,” said Barri, who continues to work as co-owner of an IT firm.

Barri said there was previously no fellowships that had been set up for USF Ph.D. engineering students by a single person gifting $500,000, so his donation was a first of its kind. He said he plans to make two more trips to India later this year to finalize setting up the scholarships there.