Fortune was smiling on a first-time South Carolina Lottery player this past week.
Sherril Shingler, who has a Smoaks address but actually lives in Bamberg County, has given a whole new meaning to the old saying, "That's the way the cookie crumbles."
After having Chinese food for lunch last Wednesday, Shingler, who has been employed for the past two years as a bank teller at Enterprise Bank in Ehrhardt, asked a co-worker to purchase a Powerball ticket for her, using the lucky numbers that were printed on the slip inside her fortune cookie.
Lo and behold, Shingler's ticket was one of 14 tickets sold in South Carolina that correctly matched five of six Powerball numbers in last Wednesday night's drawing. Of the 14 winners, eight, including Shingler, chose the PowerPlay feature for an extra dollar, which multiplied their winnings. The PowerPlay number was 5.
"I didn't sleep Thursday or Friday. I was just too nervous. I couldn't sit still. Everything has been so crazy these last few days," Shingler said Monday in an interview at her home. "People even want to come by and touch me."
She said she never had anything against the lottery but just didn't know how to play it and was always too embarrassed to ask anyone to help her.
"On Wednesday when I ordered Chinese for lunch with other co-workers, a conversation came up shortly after about purchasing lottery tickets. I decided to give the lottery a try and go with the numbers that were in my fortune cookie," Shingler said, giggling. "Speaking to one of my co-workers, I said, 'Brenda (Daniels), go ahead and get me one of those lottery tickets. Just play the numbers out of the fortune cookie.' I gave her $5 and told her to use the other $3.00 for scratch-off tickets."
Shingler said even though she played the fortune cookie numbers, her concentration was more on the message in the cookie.
"Because it said my co-workers enjoy my creativity. I thought that was funny because I keep my co-workers entertained," she said. "So I was joking around with them about that."
Shingler said that even after Daniels had to remind her to check her numbers and assist her with that process as well, she was still confused about what she had won.
"When we realized that I had all five numbers, Brenda called the Ehrhardt Service Center, where I purchased the ticket, and the clerk really wasn't able to tell us anything," Shingler said. "So, Brenda said, "Ms. Sherril, give me that ticket, I am going to find out what you won.'"
Shingler said the convenience store is about a block or two from the Enterprise Bank.
"A short time later, I got a call from Donald Bessinger, the owner of the store. He wanted to know if I was sitting down because I had just won $500,000," she said. "My first question was if it was all mine or if I was going to have to share it with other winners, and he said it was all mine."
Shingler then called her husband, Larry, who works in maintenance at Carolina Visual in Smoaks to tell him the good news.
"He didn't want to stop weed-eating to come to the telephone, and when he did get to the telephone, we were disconnected, and he was ready to go back to work," she said.
Shingler said she wants to spend her winnings wisely and make good decisions because although "it's a blessing from God," she knows she and her husband will still have to work because $500,000 "is really not a lot of money."
"The Lord has been looking out for me. I have had to raise three children by myself and work three jobs to put them through school," Shingler said. "I have been through a lot of difficult times. I want to pay off our debts and help with college for my grandson, Joshua Bilton of Holly Hill."
Thus far, the Shinglers have used their windfall to purchase new vehicles.
"Larry had an old beat up Toyota truck, and I had a little Pontiac Sunfire that I just got out of the shop because I hit the garage. We splurged and both bought new vehicles. I was so nervous when I was completing the paperwork that I signed my name Shingler Shirrel and then Shingler Shirrel Shingler," Mrs. Shingler said.
The couple plan to buy a new house using the lottery money.
"I want to be a little closer to my children," Mrs. Shingler said.
She has three children from her first marriage — two daughters, Lana Vasquez and Carayanne Bilton of Holly Hill, and Derek Vasquez, who is stationed in Tampa, Fla.
"We are looking at homes in several areas," Shingler said. "But, no matter where I move, I will drive back and forth to my job because I love where I work and the people that I work with."