A local nursing student today claimed a $7 million jackpot she and her husband won playing Georgia Lottery scratch-offs.
"I can't stop crying," said Mattie Billingsley, according to the Georgia Lottery Corp. "They're tears of joy."
Billingsley, 49, bought two tickets Thursday from the Citgo food mart on Fifth Street in Columbus. Her husband scratched the winning ticket at home and initially thought they'd won $7,000.
“Baby, guess what?" he said, according to lottery officials. "That’s $7 million. You see that comma after those zeros?”
Billingsley said the moment was "just awesome."
"We gave each other a really big hug," she said.
Billingsley and her husband have six grown children and 12 grandchildren. She's been furthering her education now that her kids are out of the house
“I’ve gotten the kids out the way," said Billingsley, who has six months left of nursing school. "Now it’s mommy time.”
The $7 Million Jackpot is an instant-win game. Players can submit non-winning tickets into an "extra chance drawing" for a shot to win $7 million, according to the lottery. Profits from the lottery are used to pay for educational programs, including the state’s HOPE scholarship.
The food mart's manager, Sunny Patel, said he found out about the winning ticket about 10 a.m. today.
"We’ve got good business with those tickets," Patel said. “I’ve just heard about stuff like this in the news. When I tell people, they don’t believe it.”
News of the winning ticket appeared to spreading this afternoon. Several customers were lined up purchasing scratch-offs and Powerball tickets.
Ernest Williams of Columbus stopped by the store after work to buy his regular scratch-offs. Williams buys about two tickets a week and has been playing the lottery "ever since it started" in Georgia.
Asked whether he'd play more frequently now, Williams laughed: “Not really," he said, "because I don’t have the money.”