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54 million reasons to be cheerful :Rikers Island Prison guard Garina Fearon from Jamaica, has won New York's Mega Millions lottery jackpot

34 year-old Garina Fearon

Thirty-four-year-old Rikers Island guard Garina Fearon wore a US$54-million smile on Thursday.

Fearon, Jamaican-born, wrote a rags-to-riches tale when she won the equlavent of J$4.6 billion in last week's Mega Millions lotto drawing in New York.

Fearon spent part of her youth in a homeless shelter and went on to endure sickening abuse from the monsters in her care.

"She's had faeces thrown in her face and on her uniform in the years that she's been there," said a fellow jail guard. "She's a tough young lady."

How she won is as remarkable as her change of fortune.

Fearon said she bought the wrong ticket at a Sutter Avenue bodega, where she went to play Powerball, not Mega Millions.

"I only play every six months or so," said Fearon, who has a 16-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.

She held on to the ticket all weekend, and didn't think about it until Monday, when she asked a co-worker for a newspaper. She scribbled the winning numbers on the back of an inmate pass as her shift ended.

The discovery

As she waited for the bus, she made the amazing discovery.

"I was about to fold up the lottery ticket," Fearon said. "Then I saw the numbers, and I started running from one part of the parking lot to the other screaming."

She still hasn't come down from her high.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "It's something unexpected."

The first thing on her "to-do" list was to talk to supervisors at the Correction Department. She said she feels too loyal to the job to let it go, even with all that money coming her way.

"I'm going to go to my job to get some days off," Fearon said. "I don't want to resign."

Fearon said it was her correction career that rescued her from her financial ruin.

Her top priority is taking care of her ailing mom.

"I'm from Jamaica," Fearon said. "I have a sick mother. She has diabetes, and I'm going to buy my mom a house in Jamaica."

Fearon said she will take the lump-sum option, which will pay her about $30 million before taxes. Beyond that, she's not sure what she'll do next.

"I don't know anything about all this kind of money," she said.

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Comment by Suzette on November 27, 2010 at 10:45pm
Congrats.. Glad to see someone who really need it win.Tired of seeing all the people who already have it win it.. So Good luck & you still young.. enjoy yourself.. Be careful with the people you meet now...
Comment by nesha london on October 15, 2010 at 12:49pm
God bless you and ur family . You go girl im happy for you. but this is a chance for you to make an impact in the system that treated you so badly the foster care program so maybe you help save another child like yourself . just food for taught.
Comment by dao on September 29, 2010 at 12:52pm
i hope she doent turnout the others
Comment by hasina zuberi on September 28, 2010 at 2:07pm
You deserve it girl...way to go...give God thanks...
Comment by RoADRaCER on September 28, 2010 at 2:52am
Comment by Tes B on September 28, 2010 at 1:55am
Yes .. I agree with the Brother Lyndon Hall... ur life has Changed 100% believe it or not, but It is ur Destiny... there are no coinsidence to this... nothing will be the same for u... but u can change too... it a must!!! Go ahead and make to changes for u and ur children... the Earth is the Lord and the Fullness there in... Go forward and Live full..there's a world out there waiting for u... rise my Sister Rise and take the stand!!! If you need to talk to me feel free I don't need anything in return.I am very Weathy already! to much is given much is expected... Hit me up Im here for u...

Comment by REV.TERRY on September 27, 2010 at 10:20pm
iam very happy for you my sister god bless & may you enjoyed your fortune. i dont know how you look at this but you have to do major changes in your life as follow [1] family members [2] friends [3] beware of those quick talking investers . yes you love your job that was before you became a millionaire the circle of friends you know the wouldnt look at you the same way .my advice check with nycers what are yur options quit the job go on a nice vacation tour the world and enjoy yourself. DONT FORGET GIVE TANKS TO THE MOST HIGH (GOD) with him anything is possible without him we are nothing dosnt matter how much money we have.god bless you and your family
Comment by Li Baptiste on September 27, 2010 at 4:14pm
She's only 34 and decided to take the lump sum which will leave her with probably only 19.5 million AFTER taxes. She should have chosen the 20 year distribution just so people won't expect her to have all that money at once. That and she's young enough to collect and enjoy all the money.

I would have quit the prison job where they throw feces on you where you have to deal with violent criminals probably before the $54 million. If I really still wanted to work, I would have chosen a new job within the NY state system. Hence, I can transfer my benefits. However, I think of all the people who would love to work, have benefits and need the money much more than Ms. Fearon. Somehow it seems a little selfish to keep that job, but I appreciate her desire to work. If she really wants to work in that system, maybe she consider owning her own facility and pay people to work for her.

NY state lottery has this stupid policy of broadcasting winners to promote themselves. They care nothing about the winners and their safety or comfort. Ms. Fearon may not have a choice about the PR matter. According to the Winners' Handbook...

Lottery policy has always been to release only the name and city of residence of each winner to the news media. Since the Lottery is a government agency and Lottery prizes are public funds, it is our responsibility to inform all of our players just like you, of Lottery winners and prizes. Therefore, we must require jackpot winners to participate in a media event arranged by the Lottery. We owe it to everyone to disclose the names of all winners to protect the integrity of the Lottery.

... How does releasing the name and city become let's make a media circus of the winner's life?

I think we all need to lobby, petition for this media circus to be optional. Why bother playing if they are not going to easily give the option of circus or no.

I will pray for Ms. Fearon and her family.
Comment by christine oneil on September 27, 2010 at 3:12pm
God bless you sister,you deserved it it couldn't happen to a better person,keep helping your mom your blessings is already flowing make some wise investment choices with God's guidance.....GREAT STORY.
Comment by King Biggs on September 27, 2010 at 10:14am
Yes, Nice to see that the blessings have reached a deserving person..... Good Story and it feels good to read it as well.....

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