Elephants are known for their luck in Laos, where Viengkham Kounnavong was born.
So when the Henrietta assembly-line worker was selecting five lottery tickets to play last month, she immediately chose one with a pachyderm theme. And it paid off, in an elephantine way.
Kounnavong, a mother of three and grandmother of one, beat odds of more than 1 in 5 million to win the $5 ticket's top prize of $1 million.
But trying to convince others of her win wasn't so easy.
Kounnavong, 46, who bought her lottery tickets Jan. 14 at the Wegmans Food Market, 2599 East Henrietta Road, Henrietta, went out to her car to scratch them off as her husband, Kham Kounnavong, stayed inside to shop.
She scratched off her Jumbo Bucks ticket to reveal a coin instant win symbol and said: "Oh my God, I won a million dollars." She raced inside to tell someone.
Kounnavong took the ticket to the store's service desk and said, "Here lady, I think I won $1 million."
And her husband didn't believe her. "He said, 'Yeah, right,'" she said.
She called her daughter, Anna Vargas, to come to her house because there was an emergency. Vargas, 24, who thought the worst, was upset as she raced to the house.
"My mom was jumping around, saying she won $1 million," Vargas said.
At a press conference at the store Wednesday, a smiling Kounnavong said she plans to return to Laos to see her family. Her daughter has never visited the country. She also plans to pay bills.
Kounnavong will share the prize with her daughter because they had promised each other to split a jackpot should they win.
Each will receive $25,000 over 20 years, minus taxes, which will be about a third of their prize.
Kounnavong says she plays the lottery "about every day. ... I love every single game."
She's an assembly line worker at Advance Circuit Technology in Chili, and Vargas works at the service desk at Home Depot. Both plan to continue working.
"Everyone at work, they're all happy for me," Kounnavong said.
Also at the press conference, Wegmans was given an award by lottery officials for having the highest average store lottery sales in the state. Last year, more than $61 million in lottery tickets were sold in New York Wegmans stores.