Willie Wright, center, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., won $1 million when his fiancée, Karlissa Stroman, 25, left, bought him a $5 scratch-off ticket. Jina Myers of the New York Lottery presents the check.
(Photo: Darryl Bautista, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal)
Nina Schutzman, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal
- Chances of winning $1 million prize: 1 in 2.6 million; being struck by lightning? 1 in 1 million
- Net is $33,090 each year for 20 years, $50,000 a year before taxes
- 20X the Cash scratch-off ticket costs $5
FISHKILL, N.Y. - A $5 gift from Willie Wright's fiancée grew to $1 million when the scratch-off lottery ticket ended up being worth the top prize.
Interestingly, Wright never really played the lottery, his family said.
"He doesn't like scratch-offs. He hates when I do them," fiancée Karlissa Stroman said.
The 25-year-old gave her fiance a New York Lottery 20X the Cash ticket Jan. 22 after she got home from running errands.
Her decision "changed his life," said Willie's brother Shawn Wright, 32.
"They were in their room and suddenly ... I heard, 'Oh my God,' " Shawn Wright said. "At first, I didn't believe it when they showed me."
Looking at the winning ticket was surreal, Shawn Wright said.
"She (Stroman) came out of the room shaking," Shawn Wright said. "I was overwhelmed actually."
Willie Wright's jackpot is not a record but will be a nice bonus for the two decades. The prize money is paid out at $50,000 a year for 20 years. After taxes, the annual check will be $33,090.
The Poughkeepsie, N.Y., resident still seemed surprised about the big win when Jina Myers of the New York Lottery presented him and two other Hudson Valley winners with ceremonial checks Wednesday at the lottery's Customer Service Center here.
"I don't have any big (spending) plans right now, I might give some to the family," Willie Wright said. "I'm pretty shocked, too."
The other Hudson Valley lottery winners are from Westchester County.
Tawanna Turner of Hartsdale, N.Y., won $2 million playing Powerball with the Power Play option. She'll get a lump sum payment of $1,323,600 after taxes.
Michael Hurley and Sandra DeRaffele of New Rochelle, N.Y., won $1 million playing Powerball and chose to split the winnings. Each will get a lump sum payment of $330,900 after taxes.
Shawn Wright and his family are very happy for his brother, he said.
"Everyone's shocked. ... They're kind of quiet," he said of the couple.
Stroman said she'll keep playing the lottery, especially the scratch-off tickets.
She's not alone.
Traditional lottery sales and video gaming revenue in the state totaled $9 billion for 2012, according to the New York Lottery. That was up from $8.1 billion in 2011.
Instant games, or scratch-offs, accounted for $3.7 billion of the 2012 total and $3.5 billion in 2011.
New York lottery profits are distributed to state school districts based on a formula devised by the Legislature, taking into account district size and income level, according to the lottery. If lottery earnings exceed budget estimates, that additional money becomes part of the next year's lottery aid distribution, according to the Lottery Aid to Education report.
The lottery contributed $2.9 billion to state education in the 2011-12 and $3 billion in 2010-11, according to state records.
Willie Wright won't quit his job at Big Lots, he said.
"I don't want to sit home and do nothing," he said.
As for he and Stroman's future, no wedding date has been planned but might be in the works for next year.
They also might buy their home, which they lease with the option to buy, his brother said.
"I always dreamed of this ... and now it just happened. I'm lucky now," Willie Wright said.
"You've been lucky - nine years ago when you met me," Stroman said to him.