A few days before the partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22, Judith Smith stopped into Eddy’s Wine and Liquors in Bayonne, N.J., and bought a Pick-6 lottery ticket.
Then Smith, a park ranger at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, N.Y., became one of hundreds of thousands of anxious furloughed federal employees, unsure of when her next paycheck would arrive. She could never have known what a windfall was heading her way.
According to a release by the New Jersey Lottery commission, when Eddy’s was announced as the location that sold the winning ticket, Smith’s son, William, went to check his mother’s ticket at a scanner. “When I read it the first time, you know, and then you’re like, ‘Wait a second, this can’t be, though,’ ” William Smith told WABC. “I put the ticket under the scanner, and it said, ‘File a claim, please see the clerk,’ and I knew it right away: It was something, more than $500.”
It was definitely more than $500.
Judith Smith had won the $29.5 million jackpot, the largest Pick-6 prize since May 2004. The family put the winning ticket in a safe place and sought advice from a lawyer before coming forward, the lottery commission said.
The family had endured troubled times before this windfall. William Smith told WABC that he was unemployed and that his father, Judith’s husband, had died two years ago.
They plan to use the money to support their family — and have a little fun. “We’ll continue to work, you know, set stuff up for the kids, go to college and travel,” he said.