Early in November last year, Geraldine Dozier-Gimblet posted a horoscope on her Facebook account that predicted she would receive an answer to her prayers, a solution to one of her “biggest problems”, and “peace in the foreseeable future”.
She bought a lottery ticket about eight weeks later that made her a millionaire, helping her recover the life savings that she had sacrificed to pay for her daughter’s successful cancer treatments, as she and officials tell it.
Dozier-Gimblet’s story captured international attention after Florida state lottery officials issued a news release on 7 April that recounted her tale of dramatically improved fortunes.
The 74-year-old resident of the Tampa-area community of Lakeland had gone to a local convenience store to buy a $10 scratch-off ticket offering a $2m jackpot on 5 January, the day after her daughter had received her final treatment for breast cancer, according to information published by Florida officials. A store clerk had told Dozier-Gimblet that he thought he was out of tickets for the crossword-style game that she wanted to try her luck at, but she convinced him to look more closely and he found one.
Dozier-Gimblet’s persistence that day paid off in a big way. The ticket which the clerk handed her turned out to be a jackpot winner, something that she initially found difficult to believe.
“I was like, ‘Are you sure? Would you check this on your phone?’” Dozier-Gimblet later told Good Morning America. “And [the clerk confirmed] I won.”
Perhaps the only person left happier by the news than Dozier-Gimblet was her daughter, Lawrencina Jackson. Jackson told lottery officials as well as Good Morning America that her mother had gone into her life savings to finance her breast cancer treatment before her illness was declared to be in remission, an occasion which she marked by ringing a bell at the hospital in charge of her care.
Dozier-Gimblet insisted that sacrificing some of her savings to pay for her daughter’s treatments was merely a natural thing for her to do as a mother. “I really didn’t think about it – I just did what I had to do,” she told Good Morning America.
But Jackson said she viewed her mother’s assistance as life-saving love that she did not take for granted.
“My mom … [took] care of me when I was sick,” the daughter said in the lottery news release. She separately told Good Morning America: “Her doing what she did just meant so much to me. I don’t see where I can replace it. I just have to keep loving her – maybe that’ll help.”
Dozier-Gimblet defied odds of 1-in-3.9m to hit the so-called Bonus Cashword Scratch-Off game’s jackpot, according to administrators of Florida’s lottery, which helps finance the state’s education system. She went to the state lottery’s headquarters in Tallahassee and availed herself of an option to collect her winnings immediately in the form of a one-time, lump-sum payment of more than $1.6m.
Lottery winners generally prefer to pocket their prizes in that fashion instead of an annuity that would typically let them collect more yet spread out over several years.
“I’m just so happy for her,” Jackson reportedly said to lottery administrators when her mom went to cash in her earnings.
Dozier-Gimblet added that she was thankful her commitment to scratch-off games had ultimately been vindicated.
“I’ve been scratching for a long time,” she said on Good Morning America. “Every single day, I bring these scratch-offs in my pockets.”
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