Cockrum, who walked away with a lump-sum payment of $115 million, is donating an undisclosed sum to Chicago's Goodman Theatre and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, according to the Chicago Tribune. He hopes to support large, extraordinary artistic projects, akin to those produced at London's National Theatre.
The lottery winner, who was a stage manager before joining the Society of St. John the Evangelist for several years, made the announcement at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan March 18.
"I do not intend to fund buildings or endowments or to buy tables at galas," Cockrum said. "And I am well aware that, for an organization without the right infrastructure, huge grants like these can be disastrous. So I intend to support productions at theaters with the capacity to manage and mount them."
"I think society is in trouble when culture is ignored," he added. "People can be duped by the first political wind that blows their way. They can be persuaded to vote against their own self-interest. Culture is what enriches us all. We are all in trouble when the arts are not [funded]."