During the longest government shutdown in US history, many employees were concerned about the status of their jobs and when they would return to work. Judith Smith, a National Park Service employee, was one of the many workers facing furlough, but instead of stressing about not receiving a paycheck, she cashed out $30 million by winning New Jersey’s largest Pick-6 jackpot since May 2004.
Smith’s ticket was purchased in time for the $29.5 million lottery drawing on December 17, 2018, just days before the shutdown began, at Eddy’s Wine and Liquors. The next day her son, William Smith, returned to the store to find out if they had the winning ticket.
“When I read it the first time, you know, and then you’re like, wait a minute, this can’t be, though,” William Smith told CNN affiliate WABC. “It said file a claim, please see the clerk, and I knew right away, something, more than $500.”
The family of five had come upon hardship in recent years, and the looming government shutdown was only going to add to their troubles.
“My dad died two years ago,” William Smith, who is currently between jobs, said. “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.”
Winning the major jackpot seemed to come at a perfect time, but the family had to seek legal counsel and financial advice first so they could go about properly filing a claim for the money. Now they plan to use their $14 million after taxes to take care of their family and have a little fun.
“We’ll continue to work, you know, set stuff up for the kids, go to college and travel,” William Smith said.
The Smiths are not the only big winners. Eddy’s will also get a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning numbers.