(Reuters) – Ending nearly two weeks of suspense, a 64-year-old substitute teacher and single parent from Arizona stepped forward on Monday to claim a $95.3 million Powerball jackpot.
Sheila Verke, a Fort Mohave resident, presented the single-winning ticket to lottery officials in Phoenix. She opted to take a lump sum payment of $49.9 million, saying she plans to buy a recreational vehicle and travel the country. It’s going to change my life and the life of my children and my grandchildren and my friends, said Verke, who was joined by friends and financial advisers at a press conference.
A single parent with two children and five grandchildren, Verke said she used a well-worn strategy to win the December 1 top prize — picking a set of numbers and staying with them each week for years. Her winning combination of 5-10-11-12-20, with a Powerball number of 2, is a combination of her birthday and that of her two children, she said. I picked these numbers at least 6-and-a-half years ago and stuck with them. Even if I had to gather quarters, nickels and dimes, I bought them, she told reporters.
Verke bought the winning ticket at a Safeway supermarket in Fort Mohave, which is about 200 miles northwest of Phoenix. She is Arizona’s third-largest winner of Powerball, a game played by residents in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Her odds of winning were more than 1 in 195 million.