Patricia Fields' father always told her that good things come to those who wait, and that if she was thankful for a little, one day she would have a lot.
The 48-year-old Woodstock resident was able to understand the true meaning of those words this month.
Fields went to a local 7-Eleven to buy her usual lottery ticket. She said she just played for fun, only purchasing the occasional ticket when she could.
She never expected to win anything, and if she did, it was a few bucks here and there. But this time, she hit the jackpot, winning $77,777 from a $5 scratch-off ticket in the Ruby Red Sevens game.
"I hit the big one," she said.
Joann Hoover, a sales clerk at the 7-Eleven, said Fields clutched her chest when she scratched the ticket, saying that she thought she won. But Hoover said she herself was ready to have a heart attack when she learned the payout.
"I was shocked," she said. "It was hard for me to believe."
Fields said she took the ticket home to show her son "to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me."
After confirming that it was a winner, she and her son drove to the Virginia Lottery's regional office in Harrisonburg to claim the cash. Hoover said she has sold some winning tickets that paid out $100 or even $500, but never has she heard of such a big payout at a convenience store in Woodstock.
"I was just as excited as she was. It was hard for me to believe," she said. "She was someone that deserved to win."
A week after winning, Fields said in some ways it still feels unreal, adding that she gets "butterflies in my stomach" whenever anyone brings it up. While some might take that amount of cash and buy a new car, Fields plans to be a little more conservative with her winnings.
After experiencing a very harsh year in which her husband lost his job and they lost their home because they could not make the mortgage payments, Fields said she feels winning the lottery is a blessing from God. She and her husband have been living with their son, but she hopes to find an apartment of their own now.
The only splurge she has allowed herself has been to buy a ring. The rest is going into savings.
"The Lord was looking after us," she said. "It took a big burden off of my heart."
Described as a simple woman before she won, giving freely what she could to others, Fields insists she doesn't intend for her winnings to change her.
"I'm going to be the same person I've always been. That money's not going to change me," she said.
Fields added that she plans to pay back everyone who has helped her in her hardship over the last year even if she only borrowed "three cents."
This has been a blessing from God and I'm thankful," she said.
Ruby Red Sevens is one of more than 60 Virginia Lottery scratch games. Fields is the third player to win the big payout, and there are still three tickets in circulation that will win the top prize. There are also 13 other tickets that will win the second-highest prize of $7,777.
After selling a winning ticket, Hoover said she has seen the number of people who have come in to the store to play the lottery greatly increase.
"We've had a lot of tickets going out of here," she said.