A Gouverneur native recalls that after scratching off her winning $1 Million a Year for Life state lottery ticket, she continued with her plans that day: a trip to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino with her sister-in-law.
Judy E. Brown, 62, Watertown, was presented Tuesday with an oversized check by state lottery officials at the Valentine Nice N Easy, 238 W. Main St., where she bought a $30 scratch-off ticket from a machine Aug. 29.
“Oh yeah, let’s get the big check,” Mrs. Brown joked as Gretchen Dizer, a representative from the New York Lottery, formally announced her prize.
Several family members and others looked on.
The award is for at least $20 million over her lifetime, broken down into annual payments of $800,000, according to lottery officials.
After required withholdings, she will receive a net check totaling $529,440 a year for the rest of her life.
Mrs. Brown, a retired nurse, has decided to share her winnings with two brothers, Richard C. Whalen, of Murphy, N.C., and Michael H. Whalen, of St. Augustine, Fla. They each will receive $100,000, which amounts to $66,180 per year after taxes.
She said her plans also include donating funds to her church, Gouverneur Presbyterian, and the Gouverneur Museum.
“This is my hometown,” Mrs. Brown said, adding that she intends to move back to Gouverneur.
Mrs. Brown said she buys lottery tickets every day and has been fairly lucky in the past at winning smaller amounts, but the prize attached to this ticket was difficult to comprehend.
She was parked in the driveway at the Gouverneur home of her sister-in-law, Elaine J. Burt, when she scratched off a $10 ticket followed by the lucky $30 winning ticket.
“I was in shock,” Mrs. Brown said. “I ran in the house and said, ‘Elaine, look at this. It doesn’t look right.’”
After she signed the ticket and put it in Ms. Burt’s safe, the two headed to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, Hogansburg.
A few days later, she went with one of her brothers to the New York Lottery’s Schenectady Service Center to verify her winning ticket.
Richard Whalen said he initially thought the ticket was fake.
“I thought it was amazing, an astronomical amount of money,” he said.
Michael Whalen described his sister’s decision to share her winnings with her brothers as “quite a gift.”
“I don’t think she realizes how drastically her life is going to change,” he said. “This is a community of 5,000 people.”
So far this year, Mrs. Brown is the 117th New Yorker to claim a New York Lottery prize of $1 million or more, lottery officials said.
During fiscal year 2013-14, the New York Lottery has contributed $28,413,162.79 to school districts in Jefferson County. Statewide, it contributed $3.17 billion that year to help support education in the state.
The lottery’s contribution represents 15 percent of total state education aid to local school districts and is distributed to school districts by the same formula used to allocate other state aid for education. A school district’s size and income level are major factors, with larger, lower-income districts receiving proportionately larger shares.
Video of Mrs. Brown receiving the novelty check can be found at: http://wdt.me/lottery.
By Susan Mende, Times Staff Writer