Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wisdom from a Poor Man

Wilmington's $1 million winner says life won't change

Staff Photo David Reynolds
Robert White buys lottery tickets Monday night at the Greenfield Food Store in Wilmington. On Saturday, Carolyn Daise (left) sold a $1 million winning ticket to Joe Demello, who plays scratch-offs at the store almost every day. White, who plays occasionally, said he was happy to see a winning ticket sold at the local store on Greenfield Street in Wilmington. "Wish it was me though," he said.
Published: Monday, December 8, 2008 at 5:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 at 10:05 p.m.
Almost every evening Carolyn Daise would hand Joe Demello a pair of $10 scratch-off lottery tickets – the most expensive she sells – and tell him he was a glutton for punishment.
Demello, who has played scratch-off tickets at the Greenfield Food Store on Greenfield Street in Wilmington for years, didn’t argue. Daise said he’d usually just shrug and say: “I’ll just get broke and get through with it.”
But on Saturday around 5:30 p.m., Demello, a 56-year-old painter from Wilmington, won $1 million.
He scratched off the ticket in the store, left without telling anyone, then returned the next day to share the news.
Demello is one of just six people to win a $1 million prize since the $130 Million Blockbuster game started in August, according to a statement from the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Back in the store Monday night, Demello said he’s glad he won, but that his life won’t change.
He’ll get the money in annual after-tax installments of $34,000, he said. Nice, but not enough to give up his day job. His lottery habits won’t change either. Demello says he’ll go back to winning $10 or $20 one day and nothing the next.
“I like to gamble,” he said. “I always have.”
He handed folded up bills to Daise and Sylvia Ayala, another clerk at the store as they rang up orders. He said he’s also given away $2,000 of his first check to a longtime friend who needed money.
While Demello played down his winnings, other shoppers at the store Monday said they’re thrilled one of the regulars hit it big.
Clifton Norman, 51, was one of several who said they were happy for Demello, but wished they’d played the ticket.
“Where was I?” Norman said, adding that for any one of the 52-year-old store’s customers to win is great. “This store has been here a long time and served a lot of people,” he said. “For somebody to win here is a blessing.”
Raymond Keels, 58, said it’s especially nice for someone to hit the lottery during tough economic times.
Demello said the economy hasn’t affected him much. “Hell, when you’re poor – all times are tough,” he said.