Donna Goeppert kissed a copy of her winning lottery ticket Wednesday, a day after the game had given her a big, fat, million-dollar smooch.
Goeppert, a lifelong Bethlehem, Pennsylvania resident who plays the lottery religiously, scratched off a $1 million winner at Linden Food Market in the city. After taxes, she'll take home $750,000.
''I'm still numb,'' Goeppert said Wednesday, standing next to her husband and mother at the Bethlehem Volunteer Fireman's Home Association, where she runs bingo twice a week. ''I still feel like I'm in a fog. I'm still dreaming, you know.''
Just a day earlier she had walked into the store to buy napkins, got sidetracked and grabbed a $20 ticket to the $1 Million Blockbuster game.
She first won her $20 back, so she tried again. No luck. One more, she told herself. It turned out to be the charm.
She scratched, glanced at the numbers and stared in awe at what she thought couldn't be true.
''I go, 'What does that say?''' she recalled asking the clerk as she showed her the ticket. ''I was, like, 'I think I won a million dollars.'''
The clerk went to grab the store's owner, John Tallarico, a longtime friend of Goeppert's who gets $5,000 from the Pennsylvania Lottery for selling the ticket. He confirmed her hopes.
''I said, 'Donna, it's a winner,''' Tallarico recalled, adding that Goeppert was ''more nervous and shaken than anything else.''
The rest of the night is a blur. Goeppert called her husband, Bill, from the store. Then the two called friends and family, who took more than just a little convincing, and visited her two children and sister and secured her winning ticket in a safe.
After a sleepless night, Goeppert and her husband, who owns a painting business, drove to Harrisburg to file a claim for the prize Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the lottery confirmed their claim but said it would take a day or two to validate the ticket.
Besides paying off her mortgage and those of her two children, Goeppert said she wants to buy herself
a car and start a college
fund for her three grandchildren.
And maybe there's enough for a trip or two to Atlantic City, one of Goeppert's favorite cities, she said.
There's no question that Goeppert got unbelievably lucky. The odds of winning one of the five $1 million prizes four of them are gone is 1,440,000 to 1, according to the lottery spokeswoman.
But, you have to play to win, and Goeppert was no slouch in that department.
When asked how much she spends a day on various lottery games, her husband and mother both raised their eyebrows. Goeppert said about $20.
How about in her lifetime?
''Probably a million,'' she said with a smile, perhaps only half joking.