Columbia woman wins big lottery prize

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | 7:24 p.m. CST; updated 4:04 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Christmas Day proved a nail biter for Geraldine Jeffries, who scratched off a Frosty Bingo lottery ticket the day before the holiday and found that she had won $25,002.

But the Fast Lane Store on Hinton Road where her husband, Eli Jeffries, bought the ticket was closed. So she had to wait ... and wait ... and wait some more before she could finally cash it in.

“It was quite a shock,” Jeffries said.

She said she was in such a state of disbelief about the ticket that she “had to look at it five times ... to be sure.”

Once she had convinced herself, she was giddy with anticipation. But she had to sit on the winning ticket until Wednesday.

Jeffries, 74, sent her husband to buy $20 worth of Missouri Lottery Scratchers game tickets on Dec. 21 from the Fast Lane. But she didn’t scratch them right away. Rather, she waited until Christmas Eve before she picked up the 10 $2 tickets to see whether she had won any prizes.

Her luck actually began fairly early. She scratched the third ticket and thought she had hit the jackpot when it told her she had won $25. The next ticket, however, held the big surprise: $25,002.

“I think my heart stopped,” she told the Missouri Lottery staff, according to a news release.

Grandmother to six and great-grandmother to four, Jeffries said her family was just as “surprised” as she to receive such a “wonderful” gift this Christmas.

“It’s a help,” Jeffries said of the money, which already is safely put away in the bank. Rather than spend the prize extravagantly, Jeffries said she plans to “just live on it.”

Jeffries said she buys five to 10 lottery tickets a week, and she plans to keep doing so for more chances at luck and just “for the fun of it.”

“I haven’t changed any. ... I’ll always be me,” she said.

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