Lottery winner Gina Ortiz holds ceremonial check
TONAWANDA, NY - Gina Ortiz, an unemployed office worker from Depew, has reaped an unanticipated windfall in the form of $1 million (before taxes) from the New York State Lottery.
Ortiz became the first grand prize winner in the instant scratch off game "Jumbo Bucks", since it was re-introduced by the Lottery on February 5th.
Ortiz purchased her ticket from a Mobil mini mart on Sheridan Drive near Colvin Boulevard on February 15th, where she'd stopped to gas up after a trip to do some laundry.
"It was green, and it looked like the elephant (on the ticket) was winking at me," Ortiz said to reporters, in explaining why she chose to play that particular lottery game.
Ortiz also revealed that she had walked into the store with $6 and decided to buy a single, $5 ticket which she scratched off in her car, and which turned out to be a $10 winner.
Not satisfied with doubling her money, she promptly returned to the store and purchased two more $5 tickets.
"You just follow your mind," she said. "It said come back in and spend that ten dollars on two more tickets and that's what I did."
Ortiz said it took her a day to realize she had parlayed her $10 bet into $1 million, and that once she did, it was several more days before she could turn in the winning tickets because the state lottery office was closed for the President's Day weekend.
"I still don't believe it. But God is good... when I (realized) I had won I said, 'Thank you Jesus', because I truly believe he is the one who blessed me with this."
Ortiz she hopes to do some good for others, because of her good fortune.
"I'm going to give back to God, meaning donate some to a church, to make sure that he gets something back, because I truly believe that he's the one who blessed me with this," said Ortiz, before adding that she'd also like to use some of the winnings to help some relatives pay for college tuition. "I'll pray to ask for guidance on what to do with the rest," said Ortiz, who also says she will also continue to look for work.
Ortiz said she frequents the store where she bought the ticket because the owner, Roy Persaud is always so nice and polite to her.
"I feel good. She's going to give back to god, she says ,and that's great," said Persaud, who recalled the largest lottery prize ever sold in his store was about 20 years ago when someone purchased a Win For Life ticket paying out $1,000 a week for the rest of the person's life..
Despite what was indicated on the enlarged, ceremonial check held aloft by a lottery hostess while introducing Ortiz as the state's latest instant "millionaire", Ortiz can't truthfully be called that.
In reality, she will not be paid $1,000,000... not after the government takes one third of the winnings in taxes during the 20 years when she will actually be paid an annual sum of just over $33,000.