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Lottery winner from White Oak relishes sharing her windfall

| Saturday, July 18, 2015, 8:12 p.m.
Esther of White Oak, (who does not wish to be identified) shows off her winning lottery ticket and the Winners' Handbook at her home in White Oak, Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Esther of White Oak, (who does not wish to be identified) shows off her winning lottery ticket and the Winners' Handbook at her home in White Oak, Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Esther of White Oak, (who does not wish to be identified) shows off her winning lottery ticket and the Winners' Handbook at her home in White Oak, Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Esther of White Oak, (who does not wish to be identified) shows off her winning lottery ticket and the Winners' Handbook at her home in White Oak, Thursday, July 9, 2015.

Esther says she's crazy.

Others seem to agree, especially lately.

“I just want to get rid of all this money,” she says without a trace of irony. “At this point in my life, I don't need it.”

Ever since winning the lottery, Esther has been determined to give away the bulk of her $205,442 jackpot. It goes to family and strangers, in chunks large and small.

“I worked from when I was 16; at one time I had three jobs — I know what it's like,” she says. “Besides, I'm only the second person in my family to make it to 65. I'm on borrowed time. I'm getting close to being beamed up.”

First, she split the jackpot with her sister.

“When she came to, she said, ‘Why are you giving me half? I don't understand,'” Esther recalls with a giggle.

Then she gave $500 to the girl who sold her the ticket at White Oak mall's Giant Eagle.

“It made me want to cry,” Esther says, “that this little amount made someone so happy.”

Ever since, she goes out, identifies someone who could use a smile, and slips them $20 bills.

“I've had so much fun,” she says. “I'll say, ‘Here, go have lunch.' ... They just think I'm crazy.”

For herself, Esther bought a television, which didn't function properly, and a computer, which she can't figure out how to use.

But that's enough for Esther, who doesn't want her last name published for fear of someone stealing her winnings before she can enjoy giving it all away.

Esther won by playing Cash 5, a daily Pennsylvania Lottery draw in which players pick numbers between 1 and 43. Hit them all, win the jackpot, which is what Esther did. Indeed, Esther wins regularly. A few hundred here, $75 there ... once she won $2,500.

It's easy for Esther, she says, because she “sees numbers.”

“I dream about them,” she says. “The first one was in '77: I saw my dead great-grandmother in a casket. There was blue silk on a blanket and I saw the numbers zero, five, seven. And those exact numbers hit that night, but I didn't bet them. Oh, I was upset.”

She learned from that mistake. Now she wants only to give away her latest windfall.

“Because it's fair,” she says. “That's the way we were raised: to share.”

And that's why, when Esther says she's crazy, others might disagree.

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