U.S.

Previously Furloughed New Jersey Park Ranger Wins $29.5 Million Lottery—Biggest Pick-6 Jackpot in 15 Years

A federal employee from New Jersey who was furloughed without pay during the recent government shutdown has won $29.5 million in the state-run Pick-6 lottery, it was announced on Wednesday.

The prize is the largest Pick-6 jackpot in the state since 2004, according to a statement from the New Jersey Lottery.

Bayonne resident Judith Smith bought the winning ticket at Eddy’s Wine & Liquors in the city on December 17, 2018, just days before she was furloughed from her job as a park ranger at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, New York, due to the shutdown. The fortpart of the National Park Serviceis one of the oldest military installations in the nation.

On December 18, the lottery announced that the winning ticket had been purchased at Eddy’s Wine & Liquors. Upon hearing this, Smith sent her son William to the store in order to confirm that she had picked the winning numbers by scanning the ticket with a self-check machine.

After the confirmation, Smith sought legal and financial advice, and kept the ticket in a safe place, before she filed a claim for the jackpot money at the lottery headquarters in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

“The longest government shutdown in U.S. history that began on December 22, 2018 and ended on January 25, 2019, had a detrimental impact on hundreds of thousands of federal workers, many of them residents of New Jersey,” a statement from the lottery read.

“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,” it continued. “Though the grim news was broadcast day after day that workers might miss another paycheck, the New Jersey Lottery proved to be a great assist for this particular furloughed—but very lucky—National Park Service employee.”

In this game roll, around $35 million in prizes were shared between 2.23 million lottery players, while $28.8 million was generated in contributions to the state. Eddy's Wine & Liquors also received a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

The latest Pick-6 prize was the largest since a $35.5 million jackpot was won in May 10, 2004. Meanwhile, the largest jackpot ever won in the lottery stands at $48.9 million—which was claimed by a lucky couple in February 2001.

Contributions to the state from the Pick-6 lottery—which was introduced in 1980—go towards the funding of educational programs.

GettyImages-469843985 A federal employee from New Jersey who was furloughed without pay during the recent government shutdown has won $29.5 million in the state-run Pick-6 lottery. iStock

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