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Saturday Night Poker Player Pulls in $1,000,000 Prize on New York Poker Scratch Off Game

During the week, 40-year-old Charlene Hopkins of Palermo, Oswego County, splits her time between her full-time job as a Special Education Teaching Assistant for Oswego County BOCES, her part-time job as a clerk at Kinney Drugs in Mexico, and taking care of family. On the weekends, you'll find Hopkins "regrouping" with friends over a fresh deck of cards.


"I'm a poker player" she said. "It's relaxing. I'm pretty lucky so that makes it even more fun, for me anyway!" Hopkins said as much as she loves her Saturday night poker games with friends, there's nothing that can compare to the feeling of winning the jackpot on a poker-themed Lottery scratch off game. "I buy the [New York Poker] ticket because it takes a little longer to play than most other scratch off games. And, you really have to know how to play poker to figure out if you're a winner," she said. "When I scratched a pair of aces and saw the words 'Jackpot One Million' printed below, I just started screaming right there in the car." Hopkins' said her husband, Timothy, was even more excited. "I ran into the house and told him the news and he started crying," she said. "I started screaming all over again and he kept crying. Neither of us could believe it." Hopkins claimed her ticket on September 15th at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Syracuse.


The working mom said her win was even more surprising given the hectic turn of events leading up to the purchase of her ticket on September 14th. "I made a really quick stop at the store in between jobs to get something for dinner that day because I didn't have anything at home," she explained. "I flew into the Big M, grabbed some chicken and decided on the way out to use my change to get a couple of tickets out of the machine. I scratched the tickets in the car. I never did get around to cooking anything for dinner that night."


As with most instant games, the top prize on the New York Poker instant game is paid as an annuity. Hopkins will collect her $1,000,000 prize as $50,000 a year for 20 years. She will receive an annual net check totaling $33,015 through 2029. Hopkins said she has very specific plans for her windfall. "I want to finish building the home my husband and I started five years ago," she said. As for maintaining her current 13-hour work day schedule, Hopkins said she may re-think that plan. "I'll definitely keep my day job," she said. "I'd like to have my nights back to be with my family."


Hopkins is the second Oswego County Lottery player to win a $1,000,000 jackpot prize in 2010. Debra Noyes of Fulton claimed her $1,000,000 prize on the Silver 6s game in March of this year. Other recent county Lottery millionaires include Katherine Burns of Mexico who won $1,000,000 on the $500,000,000 Extravaganza instant game and Brenda Pluff of Parish who won $1,000,000 on the Deal or No Deal instant game. Both players claimed their prizes in 2007.


The New York Lottery continues to be North America's largest and most profitable Lottery, earning more than $39.3 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 40 years ago. The Lottery contributed nearly $2.67 billion in fiscal year 2009-2010 to help support education in New York State, which was over 12 percent of total state education funding to local school districts. Lottery revenue is distributed to local school districts by the same statutory formula used to distribute other state aid to education. It takes into account both a school district's size and its income level; larger, lower-income school districts receive proportionately larger shares of Lottery school funding.