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When St. Paul Park resident Samantha Dittel, 18, opened up a graduation card from a family friend during her party in early August, she found a scratch off lottery ticket, which happened to be worth $10,000. (Submitted photo)

Grad party gift? A winning lottery ticket

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It's been a year since Samantha Dittel was in a terrible auto accident that left her with injuries and no car.

If she's riding in a friend's car and the driver takes chances, Dittel still gets anxious.

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But a high school graduation gift seems to have turned around her run of bad luck.

Dittel, of St. Paul Park, was a Park High School student before transferring to St. Croix Central in Hammond, Wis., where she graduated.

Her family hosted a graduation party for her earlier this month, but Dittel, 18, didn't open her cards and gifts during her party. Instead, she opened them the following Monday and invited her grandmother, Deb Kinsey, over to help.

A woman who attended the party gave Dittel a $20 lottery ticket. She told her "Gram" that she might as well get it over with and started to scratch off the lottery ticket.

"I'm not lucky," she told her, adding that she'd never won anything.

Most teens consider an 18th birthday a right of passage to try gambling. Dittel lost money on her one trip to a casino.

But her luck turned and the ticket she scratched was a $10,000 winner.

Dittel, her mother and Gram thought it was a joke. They called the woman who gave the ticket and she confirmed it was not a joke.

When they went to SuperAmerica in St. Paul Park, a clerk ran the ticket through the lottery machine and a slip came up stating that Dittel needed to go to the state lottery office in Roseville.

"Gram was freaking out," Dittel said in an interview.

Even though the tax on her winnings is 32 percent and taken out before the lottery gives a check to the winner, Dittel is grateful to have the money.

She bought a car and paid in full. It'll be great to have reliable transportation, said Dittel, who plans to become a veterinarian technical assistant.

"It's my freedom," she said.

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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