Woman ‘steals’ top-prize lottery ticket at white elephant party

Mid-South

A woman at a company party in Kentucky ended up winning a scratch-off jackpot following a fortuitous chain of events. (Credit: Kentucky Lottery)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WFLA) – Lori Janes was pretty bummed when a coworker “stole” a $25 TJ Maxx gift card she got at her company’s white elephant party. But her luck was about to change.

Janes works at Harmon Dental Center in Louisville, Kentucky, as the office manager and treatment coordinator. For the holidays, Janes and her colleagues decided to hold a white elephant gift exchange.

During a white elephant gift swap — sometimes called “Yankee swap” — each participant brings a wrapped gift to exchange with other partygoers. Rules vary from region to region (and family to family), but participants generally take turns choosing and unwrapping one of the gifts. Players on subsequent turns, however, can choose not to pick a gift from the pile, and instead “steal” one of the gifts that had already been unwrapped during an earlier turn.

Initially, Jones picked out a TJ Maxx gift card. But one of her coworkers “stole” it, which meant that Jones was allowed to “steal” someone else’s gift.

She ended up choosing $25 in scratch-off tickets from one of her other coworkers.

“Once it got to me, it was done and mine to keep. That’s when everyone was telling me to scratch them off,” Janes told the Kentucky Lottery.

When she scratched her first ticket, she found that she won a $50 prize, but it was her second ticket that held the real prize: a $175,000 jackpot.

“Everyone was going insane,” Janes said. “People were getting their calculators out and double-checking. A couple of people even scanned the ticket on the lottery’s app, just to make sure.”

Hours later, Janes and her family traveled to the lottery headquarters to claim their prize, which amounted to $124,250 after taxes.

“This is so crazy. I’m truly blessed,” she said.

Janes told the Kentucky Lottery she plans to use the money to pay off her daughter’s student loans and their car payments.

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