TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – It was a lucky break for a New Jersey woman who was about to be furloughed from her government job.
Park ranger Judith Smith got furloughed during the partial federal government shutdown but claimed a $29.5 million lottery jackpot, the largest Pick 6 tally in 15 years.
“And I still can’t believe it,” she told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.
Smith spoke to CBS2 from Florida where she is visiting her daughter, and she says her financial fortune could not have been more fortuitous.
Smith had purchased the winning Dec. 17 Pick 6 ticket days before the shutdown closed the Fort Wadsworth recreation area in Staten Island.
The career government worker has been a U.S. park ranger since 1998, and she was about to without a paycheck for 34 days.
“It’s scary knowing you may be out of a job,” she said.
The Bayonne resident bought a ticket at Eddy’s Wine and Liquors, and her two children put the it in a safe place while seeking legal and financial advice before claiming the jackpot.
“It was just the craziest thing,” said daughter Sarah Smith. “Where other people were worried about money and how they are going to pay their bills, my mom finds out she’s a multi-millionaire.”
So what is she going to do with the money? Smith plans to take care of her family, son Andrew, her grandchildren and daughter Sarah.
“I’m going buy a house in Florida so I can visit my daughter,” she said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)