Park Ranger Furloughed by Government Wins $29.5 Million New Jersey Jackpot

Friday February 22nd 2019 Park Ranger Furloughed by Government Wins $29.5 Million New Jersey Jackpot

A park ranger won a New Jersey Lotto jackpot worth $29.5 million just days before being furloughed from her government job. After losing her source of income and winning the lottery within days of each other last December, Judith Smith finally came forward to claim her eight-figure winnings this week.

Judith Worked at Fort Wadsworth Since 1998    

Judith won the Pick 6 jackpot in the draw on Monday 17th December of last year, matching all six numbers to become an overnight multi-millionaire. She bought her winning entry from Eddy’s Wine and Liquors in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the store will get a $10,000 bonus payment for selling the lucky ticket.

She found out she was the Pick 6 jackpot winner the day after the draw, when her son William checked the ticket at the same store. He explained: "When I read it the first time, you know, and then you're like, wait a minute, this can't be, though. It said file a claim, please see the clerk, and I knew right away, something, more than $500."

Judith had been a park ranger at Fort Wadsworth in New York’s Staten Island since 1998, but the site closed down due to partial federal government shutdowns five days after the draw. Along with her daughter, Sarah, the family then waited almost two months to claim their prize. They firstly sought legal and financial advice, storing the winning ticket in a safe place during this time, which they checked regularly.  

“It Was Just the Craziest Thing, My Mom Finds Out She’s a Multi-Millionaire”

Judith remained out of work until 25th January of this year, and the family were finally revealed as the lottery’s jackpot winners on Wednesday 20th February. Sarah revealed: “It was just the craziest thing. Where other people were worried about money and how they are going to pay their bills, my mom finds out she’s a multi-millionaire.”

The New Jersey Lottery Commission added: "This dedicated worker was waiting along with her colleagues through days of being furloughed without pay and an uncertain determination about when this furlough might end. At Lottery Headquarters in Lawrenceville, three lucky people came forward to claim their jackpot and start 2019 as a happy new year."

The family decided to go public, and plan to use their post-tax winnings of $14 million effectively, adding: "We'll continue to work, you know, set stuff up for the kids, go to college and travel.” The jackpot win was the biggest Pick 6 payout in 15 years, dating back to 10th May 2004 when a $35 million jackpot was won.

The trio have been through a difficult period over the past few years. Judith’s husband died two years ago, and William explained: “My mom's boyfriend's mother passed away in November, and her boyfriend actually died of a massive heart attack three weeks to the day in November."

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