Garina Fearon, a prison guard, credits her incredible New York Mega Millions lottery win of $54 million to fate. "I went in to the store for a newspaper and a Powerball ticket and left with neither," she laughed. Instead, she left the Sutter Ave. store with a New York Mega Millions Lottery ticket bearing two sets of Quick Pick numbers for the Friday, September 17th 2010 Mega Millions draw.
"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 winning Mega Millions numbers for the draw were 3, 4, 14, 18, and 27 with the Mega Ball 13.
As we now know, that fateful turn turned out to be hugely profitable for the mother of one. She told a colleague at work that she has a feeling that she had won the Mega Millions jackpot and asked to borrow a newspaper to check the numbers. "When I saw I had the numbers I started running, jumping and screaming all over the parking lot," she said.
The Mega Millions winner from New York decided to receive her prize as a one-time lump sum payment of over $36 million which represents the cash value of the jackpot. After taxes she will net nearly $23 million.
One of her first priorities following her Mega Millions jackpot win is to talk to her bosses at Rikers Island – the notorious prison where she works. She says she doesn’t want to quit even though she will be the only multi-millionairess there. 'I'm going to go to my job to get some days off,' Garina said. 'I don't want to resign.' Garina says that she feels indebted to US Correction service, because the job saved her from near-destitution. Six years ago she was down to her last few dollars and had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Even after she started working in the prison, her bad luck continued. While she was out at work keeping criminals off the streets, burglars broke into her appartment, taking almost everything she had.
'I wanted a better life. I was struggling as a single parent. I've really come back from nothing.' Her main focus following the lucky Mega Millions draw will be to take care of her elderly mother.' I'm from Jamaica,' Garina said. 'I have a sick mother. She has diabetes, and I'm going to buy my mum a house in Jamaica.' Apart from that, Garina has no firm plans about what to do with her Mega Millions jackpot windfall "I don't know anything about all this kind of money," she said.
And lady luck continues to give. The owner of the store on Sutter Avenue – Melissa Meat - will also benefit from Garina’s good fortune. The store will receive a $10,000 bonus for selling the ticket containing the winning Mega Millions numbers.
To date, New York has awarded 20 Mega Millions jackpot prize checks to players statewide. It 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.