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$1 Million Lottery Winner Buys Snellville Farm

The winner, Penelope Henritze, currently lives in Lilburn.

A quick stop at a local convenience store changed Penelope Henritze's life in more ways than she could have imagined -- one million to be exact.

The Lilburn woman was on her way home from work when her "sweetheart" called and asked her to run a quick errand for him.

"He called, and said, 'Stop and get me some snuff,'" Henritze, 68, recalled.

She obliged, stopping at the Texaco Food Mart on Britt Road in Tucker. She picked up his favorite: Longhorn smokeless tobacco.

Standing at the cashier's station, the Georgia Millions instant game card caught her eye.

"I thought, 'Yeah I need to try the Millions,'" she recalled on Thursday while standing in the gas station where she bought the ticket. "That's the first one that I'd touched."

The gas station actually has a knack of turning out winners, said store owner, Sameer Lalani. A "wall of fame" goes up every month with the winning scratch-off tickets bought by his customers.

"There comes a point at the end of the month when the whole thing is full," he said, "so we have to take it down and start over again."

"This has always been a lottery store for us," he added.

When Henritze stepped back inside her truck that evening of Dec. 28, it was too dark tell if she'd actually won something from the scratch-off. Once she got home, she asked her "sweetheart," 54-year-old Johnny Weaver, to have a look.

"When she first got it, she didn't know if she's won or not," he said. "She said, 'Johnny, check this.' And, I said, 'You're a millionaire.' I just thought I was gonna pass out."

The very next day, the couple moved on buying a farm situated on nearly eight acres in nearby Snellville. They are days away from closing on the property. Henritze also plans to buy a donkey, chickens and a horse, which Weaver said he's going to teach her how to ride.

She already has the saddle.

"God is good," said Henritze, who works as a personal secretary for an Atlanta-area attorney. "We're so blessed. We are just so blessed. We just can't get over the blessings that come when you least expect it."

And, on Thursday, lottery officials ceremoniously handed the long-time Gwinnett County resident with an oversized check for $1 million.

Besides buying her dream home, Henritze said she's also now in a position to help family out, as well. She has five adult children, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

After taxes, she will take home approximately $690,000. Weaver said they expect the money soon.

It's been said that winning millions of dollars changes people -- spoiling good people and leaving them depressed, but Henritze isn't so sure about that.

"I'm not convinced yet that it changes who you are if you are rooted in faith and love and family," she said.

Before leaving the Texaco gas station on Thursday, the Lilburn woman bought two more $10 Georgia Millions tickets.

It may be no surprise that those tickets were winners, as well. One worth $20, and the other worth $40.

Cris James January 04, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Good for you! I play when I can afford it, but am not too darn lucky! Welcome to Snellville!

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