Terrible day turns to treasure - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Terrible day turns to treasure

August 26, 2005

Albany-- Lee County's Donna McGowan said last Friday had been a terrible day for her, right up until she bought the Lotto South Ticket that won her $7.7 million.

Friday she and her husband picked up their check, but say it is not going to change their lives. About 30 friends and family crowded into the Minit Mart as Donna and Steve McGowan accept the big check from the Georgia Lottery President.

Donna said she bought the Lotto South Ticket at Publix Friday, because she was down. Donna McGowan "Had a bad week. So this is a better week. Now I'm having a better week." Monday she and friends talked about the news that someone in Albany had won the $14 million jackpot, but no one had claimed it yet. Late Monday night she checked her ticket.

"I couldn't even see the last two numbers because I was so upset, by then crying. That's when I called my husband Steve, come look at these numbers and make sure I hadn't read them wrong," McGowan said.

Steve said "I got real, real hot, started sweating. After I found out it was true then I got real, real cold and had to cover up with a blanket."

Donna and Steve started calling their family and friends about 11:00 Monday night. "He sounded really serious on the phone, like something was really wrong. And he said 'James I just won the lottery!' A and I said 'Huh?'"said his friend James.

It was a long night, as the couple protected that ticket. Steve said "Kept checking over and over to make sure the doors were locked. Trying to calm her down, it was bad."

Donna said "You stories about if it's lost or mangled or something, it's void. So we tried to make sure we took care of it." Now suddenly wealthy, Donna says their first purchase will be a new home. "We had planning to build a house in five or six years, but we get to do that sooner now," said Donna.

Donna is an office manager for Veterinary Medical Supplies, Steve drives a truck for Overnight Trucking. Both plan to keep working. "We won't have to worry as much. We will be better taken care of. Our bills will be paid off and that's the main thing."

Sunday was the couple's sixth wedding anniversary. Today they wanted to celebrate again with their friends a really special day.

Donna McGowan says she plans to continue buying Lottery tickets, because she truly believes in the Hope Scholarship and Kindergarten programs that it pays for.

Donna bought the winning ticket at Publix, but the store did not want to have the award celebration there. Publix will get $25,000 for selling the winning jackpot ticket.

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