By Todd Northrop
A winning $7 million scratch-off lottery ticket purchased by an 82-year-old grandmother while waiting for her hair appointment is about to change the lives of several generations in one family.
"We've been pooling our money to buy lottery tickets for years now," Carol Prevete, 50, said about herself and her mother, Marilyn Looney, 82, of Selden, N.Y. "We always split whatever prize we win." One time that even totaled about $20,000, she said.
But this time they hit it big, choosing to receive one lump-sum payment and splitting the winnings evenly — $3.5 million (net $2,316,300) each.
Looney, a two-time cancer survivor who recently learned the illness has reappeared, purchased the ticket in July while killing time before a hair appointment.
Her hairdresser was running behind on July 3, so she decided to go into Mili Cards and Smoke Shop in Selden to purchase a scratch-off lottery ticket.
"Every week she comes in, she gets her hair done, and then goes and scratches tickets," said Looney's hairdresser, Treesha Powery. "And I was running late, so I said, 'Marilyn, go scratch first today.'"
Looney did just that, but she didn't scratch it. "I just scanned it, but the sun glare on the screen made it hard to read, so I gave it to the clerk to check," she said. "He re-scanned it and jumped five feet in the air. He was very excited for me."
Looney immediately called her daughter.
"I grabbed my cellphone, called my daughter and said, 'Get down here, we just won $7 million,'" Looney said.
Looney later stopped back in Family Haircutters Salon next door to hug her hairdresser.
"I came in here like a raving maniac: 'Treesha! I won $7 million!'" she said. "She didn't believe me."
The shared winnings will be used in ways to benefit everyone: Looney says she'll buy a house to share with her family (though her husband, Martin, lives in a nursing home). And Prevete, a bookkeeper and mother of four, will pay off a mortgage and other debts, purchase a new car, and send her children — including 13-year-old triplets — to college.
Looney said she and her daughter have always shared their winnings, and this time was to be no exception.
"[I'll] make sure that my daughter and her family are taken care of and they don't have to worry about anything," Looney said. "I'm 82, I don't need anything. I just want to see them happy and taken care of."
On Tuesday at a news conference Prevete described her reaction when her mother called with the news.
"She called me up and started screaming in the phone, and I thought something had happened to her," she said. "I turned sheet white, and I turned to my husband and he asked what's wrong. And I said, 'We just won $7 million!' I'm still dumbfounded."
Looney said she will seek better medical care for both herself and her husband, and has only one traditional wish for spending her winnings.
"Maybe a trip to Disney World with my kids," she said.
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