Lightning Can Strike Twice

You know that old lottery saying: “You have to play to win.” Well, there is a woman in New York whose lottery saying should be: “You win when you play.”

Valerie Wilson, a worker at a Long Island deli recently told a local newspaper that she won $1 million from a state lottery game. Now, that in and of itself may not sound like big news, only this isn’t the first time Wilson has hit the jackpot. The paper reports that she is the same woman who won $1 million on a lottery scratch-off game four years ago.

“The first time I couldn’t believe it,” Wilson told the paper. “This time I said, ‘God’s on my side.'”

The 56-year-old beat some long odds to pull off her double victory. The New York State Lottery reports that in 2002, when she won her first million, her ticket (the Cool Million scratch-off game, which has since been discontinued) had a 1 in 5.2 million chance of winning. Last month, she beat odds of 1 in 705,600 when she got the $1 million prize in the New York lottery’s Jubilee scratch-off game. But, wait, if you think that’s amazing consider this: overall, her chances of winning both games were a slim 1 in 3,669,120,000,000. According to state lottery officials, there have been only two previous repeat million-dollar-plus winners in the lottery’s history.

I just don’t see how this can happen (not that I am not happy for Wilson). I mean when I play the lottery—which only happens when the Powerball jackpot gets up around $200 million—I’m lucky if my ticket matches one of six numbers. I can’t even get a parking space close to the entrance at the supermarket. How can someone possibly hold two $1 million lottery tickets?

Despite her new winnings, Wilson tells the paper that she still hasn’t quit her day job at the deli. In fact, she says she “plans to keep working until at least December, making sandwiches and ringing up sales.”

State lottery officials say the $1 million prize will be paid out in $50,000 installments over 20 years. Wilson said she used her first winnings to help buy homes for her three children.

“This one is going to be for me,” she said. “I’m going to live a little bit.”


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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.