Linza Ford (pictured), a 19-year-old Brooklynite who had to drop out of college and work to help her family makes ends meet, won a $1 million jackpot this week, the New York Daily News reports. She was one of ten New Yorkers who won a share of $13 million in winnings.
Ford had just finished her freshman year at Hofstra University when her father had to go on disability, forcing her family to make tough choices.
“I didn’t want to leave,” she said. “That’s one of the colleges I really wanted to go to. I was sobbing.”
But her fortunes changed when she purchased a Million Dollar Scratch ticket at Prabhu Grocery Store near her Bensonhurst home last month.
“I did not believe it. I looked at it, I’m like ‘No, no, not me,’” said Ford, who had been mulling joining the Air Force. “When I finished I went home and I showed my mom. I think she freaked out more than I did.”
A New York Lottery spokesman gave out the ceremonial prizes at the Lottery’s headquarters in Harlem to Ford and nine other new millionaires.
Here is more on some of those winners:
Michael Reitan, 31, of Rego Park, Queens, says he won’t totally believe he won until he sees those extra zeros show up in his bank account.
Reitan is waiting before making any extravagant purchases.
“I’m not going to do anything yet. Once it’s in my account, then I’ll go shopping,” said Reitan, a customer and border protection officer at JFK airport.
Reitan, whose winning scratch-off ticket guarantees him a gross of $260,000 for the rest of his life, will net $172,068 annually after tax.
“I’m 31 now, so hopefully I’ll live until I’m 231,” said the fortuitous bachelor, who plans to keep working.
“I’ve got 14 years until retirement. But I’m not going to do overtime ever again,” said Reitan.
Reminiscing about the glorious moment that changed his life, Reitan said he was alone in his apartment when he scratched the ticket he bought at the Lucky Corner in Rego Park.
“They say when a tree falls in the forest it doesn’t make a sound. I’ll tell you when a lottery winner scratches it off by themselves, they make sounds,” Reitan said.
While he’s not rushing out to spend his winnings, Reitan does have his heart set on a few luxuries. A devoted Jets fan, he wants to buy tickets for the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife stadium.
Ford, who was going to school to be a psychology or social work major, says that money will no longer prevent her from earning a college degree.
“I didn’t finish school, but now I can go back,” said Ford, who will receive 20 annual payments of $50,000, or $31,152 after withholding. “I don’t know if I can get financial aid now,” she joked.