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Houston woman wins $500,000 with scratch-off lottery ticket

A Warner Robins woman is planning a wedding and a possibly a European vacation with a half-million dollars won Monday when she scratched the instant Jumbo Jumbo Bucks in the Georgia lottery.

"I've got to give him the money to get the wedding ring," 38-year-old Jody Winter joked this afternoon before a news conference in the parking lot of Rocky's Snack & Shop at 1029 N. Davis Drive in Warner Robins where the $10 winning ticket was purchased.

She and her fiance, Jeffery Ditmars, 39, have been together for seven years. They share a home, two children, Austin, 5, and Emily, 4, and an auto repair business in Lizella. She takes care of the administrative part and he's the mechanic.

"But I'll crawl up under the car with a wrench, too," Winter said.

Winter, a regular lottery player, said she usually buys the $2 tickets but for some reason, decided to purchase the higher-priced ticket that afternoon.

She said she sat out in her Ford Probe with all of its 162,000 miles on it and slowly scratched off the boxes for a match with the top row.

Winter drove up to the store this afternoon in her new 2008 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. She also purchased her fiance a 2008 GMC Denali. The couple also own a 1992 Chevrolet Camaro in which Ditmars had just finished replacing the engine. The car will now get a new paint job, she said.

When Winter scratched the $500,000 off Space 9 of the card Monday, she said she did a double-take and then ran back inside the store where Nick Patel was behind the counter.

She apologized for cutting in line and showed Patel her lottery ticket, asking him to verify her winnings.

She said the clerk was just as calm as he could be but she couldn't settle down. She said she screamed and hollered all the way during the 30-minute drive to Lizella to tell Ditmars the news.

Winter then went to the lottery office and had the office call him.

"I don't think he really believed me," she said.

The couple have closed up shop for a week, and Winter said she has a financial consultant that will help her invest some of the winnings.

Patel said the half-million is the most any of his customers have won at the store. The highest other wins have been for $500 each, he said.

Shikha Patel, his niece and whose father owns the store, said she expects lottery sales of the Jumbo Jumbo Bucks will increase with news of Winter's winnings.

She said the store usually posts the winning ticket.

"You had a $500,000 winner?," she said she expects to be asked by customers. "OK. Give me one. I want to play, too."

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