MOREAU — What do you do when you win $3.3 million?
Keep the lottery ticket safe from the dog, “yellabrate” with your friends on the phone and then put on your bathing suit so you’re ready when they show up to pour champagne all over you.
At least, that’s what Gansevoort accountant Rita Dixon did in the first hours after she scratched a winning lottery ticket.
Dixon, 49, recounted the tale Thursday at a press conference at the Xtra Mart on Saratoga Avenue in Moreau where she bought the ticket.
Actually, she bought six tickets — three at Speedway, and then three more at the Xtra Mart. The last one was the big winner.
It all started when she agreed to babysit a 2-year-old Friday night.
The next morning, she was exhausted. With cash in her pocket from the babysitting job, she stopped at Speedway for a Powerade on her way home. That’s where she bought the first three tickets, hoping for a pick-me-up to recover from the babysitting.
“I was having a bad day. I was feeling lucky. Something had to give, so I bought a ticket. A couple tickets,” she said.
She won $40 on the third ticket and headed home. Then she passed the Xtra Mart.
“I stopped here because I said I was still feeling lucky,” she said.
On her first two tickets, she won $20. So she switched to another clerk — “because he’s lucky” — and bought her final ticket.
It wasn’t the one she expected, so the clerk offered to let her trade it out for another. She refused and started scratching it. Two numbers matched and she started to scratch to reveal the prize.
“I just saw a lot of numbers,” she said. “I couldn’t talk.”
Wordlessly, she showed the clerk. He gave her a high-five. She walked away and put her head in a refrigerator.
Once she was calm, she walked to her car and locked herself in before calling her husband. She told him she could not drive home because she’d won so much money.
His first words when he arrived? “Let me see the ticket.”
“He didn’t believe me,” she said with a laugh.
While she waited for him to arrive, she called her friend Kim Mitchell-Mellon, who had no trouble believing her. They were “yellebrating” on the phone before she got off the line to call all of her other friends and family.
One brother had the only calm advice: sign the ticket. She also put the ticket in a ziplock bag, put that in a box, and put it high up in her closet. Not because she feared robbers. She was worried the family dog might eat it before she could turn it in the following Monday.
She jumped in the pool briefly, then saw Mitchell-Mellon pull into the driveway. She ran to meet her, knowing what would probably happen.
“Kim poured champagne all over me,” she said. “Then we went back on the back porch and had another bottle of champagne.”
Mitchell-Mellon said she even shook the bottle to create maximum splash.
Dixon got the cash in her bank account Thursday and started her new millionaire’s life by inviting all of her friends and family to lunch after the press conference.
She also picked out a new Mercedes. Her current car is 10 years old.
But other than that, she vowed she would be careful with her riches. She will pay off her mortgage and other debt, invest most of the money, and keep her job, she said.
She will continue to work as an accountant at the family tax preparation business, Marshall Associates in Glens Falls. She will also still work occasionally as a waitress at Mama Riso’s Restaurant in Lake George.
Her boss came to the press conference and called out, “You’re not quitting!”
She might be the first millionaire waitress, she acknowledged.
“I’ll work a little bit. I do it for fun,” she said.
As for the accountant work, she said, “It’s a family business, so I can’t really quit. But earlier than planned, earlier than when I am dead, which was the original plan.”
Now she’ll semi-retire. She’s not sure what she will do with her time off.
“I do a lot of volunteer work. I’ll probably do more,” she said.
Yolanda Vega, who presented her with her check, took her aside to give her advice afterward.
“I just told her to stay as real as she is,” Vega said. “She is one of the realest, truest millionaires I have ever presented. She exudes such genuineness. She’s also full of positivity. I don’t want that to change.”