ELBA — A Knowlesville woman who recently fought cancer said a $1 million winning lottery ticket will pay off medical bills and help her start a college or career fund for her three children.
Nichole Williams, 30, was introduced today as a lotto winner by New York Lottery personality Yolanda Vega. Williams didn’t actually buy the winning scratch-off ticket from the Triple Double 777 Red Hot game.
It was given to her by a friend from Pembroke for Williams’ 30th birthday. She celebrated with family and friends on Jan. 11 at the VFW in Medina. Williams said she had only bought two lottery tickets in her life – both duds.
Her friend bought her four tickets for her birthday. Williams scratched them off the next day at her home in Knowlesville. The first two weren’t winners. On the third one, Williams won $5 and that made her happy.
When she scratched off the fourth ticket, she was confused. She isn’t familiar with the scratch-off games. The rules said if you get a row of three symbols that all match, you win the prize next to the symbols. Williams scratched off three lightning bolts. Next to those symbols it said, “JACKPOT 1 million.”
She looked at the ticket, flipping it over several times, for about 20 minutes. Finally, she called her father, an Orleans County deputy sheriff and frequent lottery player. She asked him if he thought she had won.
Her father wasn’t familiar with the game, but he thought it sounded like a winner. She went to see him and he checked the game’s rules. They felt more convinced the ticket was a jackpot winner.
Williams took the ticket to the Crosby’s in Albion and received confirmation it won the biggest prize. The next day she went to the Lottery’s office in Buffalo to claim the jackpot.
“It’s definitely a blessing,” Williams told reporters today. “It’s definitely a huge weight lifted off my shoulders that I can provide college for my kids or if they don’t want to go to college we can put it towards a tech school or whatever else they want to do.”
Williams and her husband Rusty have three children, ages 5, 7 and 11. About a year ago in January she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After seven surgeries she was declared in remission. But that wasn’t before going into septic shock.
She appreciates the care she received at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo. She decided to pursue a career helping patients.
Williams is currently working at the Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina. She is a unit assistant and expects to be a certified nursing assistant in about month. She has no plans to stop working.
“I love my job,” she said. “I love taking care of the residents there.”
Her husband is a truck driver. They were living in Maryland before moving to Orleans County about three years ago to be closer to family and much more affordable housing. They said it was too costly to raise a family in Maryland.
Williams accepted a lump sum of $537,440. She is grateful for her friend buying the lottery ticket. Williams offered the friend some of the winnings, but the friend refused, telling Williams she deserves it.
“I told them right away,” she said about calling her friend to share the news. “They were extremely happy for me.”
(Click here to see a video of Nichole Williams with Yolanda Vega at Crosby’s in Elba.)