Unlike most people, 51-year-old Colleen Garrett thinks coins found tails-up are good luck. When she found just such a talisman in her yard on Monday, she slipped it into her blue left sneaker.
Within 12 hours, the Winchester, Va., woman had spent more than $40 and won $11,100 in the D.C. Instant Lottery.
Garrett was watching television Monday evening when she saw a man in a wheelchair who had won $10,000 in the lottery. "I'd like to try that," the divorced mother of three told her daughter.
At 8 that night Garrett, her two daughters, her daughter's boyfriend and one grandchild piled into a car and took a two-hour drive to the city.
According to Garrett's daughter Midge Clark, her mother first stopped at a People's Drug Store in Northwest, where she bought 15 of the $1 dollar tickets. She won $1,000. Encouraged by her good fortune, Garrett and her entourage went to a 7-Eleven. She purchased 15 more tickets and won another $100.
In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, Garrett drove one daughter and her grandchild home and the others rode back into town to wait for the lottery claims center to open. Along the way, she stopped at an all-night drug store for coffee and bought 12 more tickets and -- yes, believe it or not -- one was worth $10,000.
Her daughter said the store clerk tried to calm the excited woman and let her out the back door. "People around here will knock you in the head for a dollar," Garrett was told.
Upon telling her story at the lottery claims center, Garrett became an instant celebrity--radio microphones and all. She told a lottery official that she plans to wear her sneakers with the lucky penny when she goes to the as yet unscheduled $1 million grand prize drawing.
Garrett, who with her son owns Blue Ridge Pest Control, wasn't around yesterday. She was off telling her neighbors about her luck.
What's she going to do with all that money?
Says her daughter, she'll pay bills -- of course.