Chance Leads New York Woman to $54,000,000 Mega Millions Jackpot

Fate has played a leading role in Garina Fearon's life ever since she immigrated to New York from her native Jamaica more than 20 years ago, moving to Brooklyn in 2008. And, she believes it was fate that again stepped in on Thursday, September 16th when Fearon decided to buy a ticket for an upcoming Powerball drawing which was, at the time, worth an estimated $116,000,000.

"I went in to the (Melissa Meat] Market for a newspaper and a Powerball ticket that day and left with neither," she laughed. Instead, the four-year veteran of the City's Department of Correction assigned to Rikers Island left the Sutter Ave. store with a New York Lottery ticket bearing two sets of Quick Pick numbers for the Friday, September 17th Mega Millions drawing for $54,000,000. "That's what I get for not playing very often," she laughed. "I got the games confused and asked for the wrong one. I realized my mistake before I left the store, but it didn't matter. I figured it was meant to be so I kept the ticket."

The fateful decision proved to be a profitable one for the mother of two. "I have a feeling I won Mega Millions." Fearon told a coworker as she was getting ready to leave work the following Monday, September 20th. Fearon asked to borrow the co-workers newspaper to check her winning numbers. "When I saw I had the numbers [3 4 14 18 27 Mega Ball 13] I started running, jumping and screaming all over the parking lot," she said. "Everyone saw me running around. They must have thought I was crazy or something." Unable to use her cell phone at work, Fearon waited until she left the lot to break the news to relatives. "I pulled off Astoria Boulevard and called my dad first thing," she said. "Of course, he thought I was joking."

Fearon opted to receive her prize as a one-time lump sum payment of $36,560,596, which represents the cash value of the jackpot on Tuesday, September 21st, the day she claimed her winning ticket at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Manhattan. Her net check will total $22,723,873 after all applicable withholdings.

Sounding very much like the proud New Yorker she's become, Fearon said her change of fortune comes at a time when everything seems to be falling into place. "All my life, all I ever wanted was a home for me and my family and a car. I already had both even before I won this money," she said. "Now, I can focus on my work and my family. That's what's important to me now."

The owner of the Melissa Meat Market will also benefit from Fearon's good fortune. The store will receive a $10,000 selling bonus. To date, New York has awarded 20 Mega Millions jackpot prize checks to players statewide. Seventeen of those prize checks were awarded to players from New York City and Long Island.

The New York Lottery continues to be North America's largest and most profitable Lottery, earning more than $39.3 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 40 years ago. The Lottery contributed nearly $2.67 billion in fiscal year 2009-2010 to help support education in New York State, which was over 12 percent of total state education funding to local school districts.

Lottery revenue is distributed to local school districts by the same statutory formula used to distribute other state aid to education. It takes into account both a school district's size and its income level; larger, lower-income school districts receive proportionately larger shares of Lottery school funding.