East Naples resident Patti Decker buys a lottery ticket or two every day with no conceived plans of striking it rich. Tuesday was a different day.
She hit a $1 million jackpot.
“I just started scratching it and all of the sudden I saw lots of little zeros,” said Patti Decker. “Then I started to shake.”
The staff at the Publix in Kings Lake Square in East Naples took her to the back room to relax because she was screaming and crying, said Patti Decker.
When she called her husband, Gordon, to share the news he thought something was wrong because she was crying.
“The way she told me it was kind of a crying sort of thing,” said Gordon Decker. “I thought she had run over the dog.”
The Deckers have been business partners for 23 years at Action Title, a title insurance company located at 3733 U.S. 41 N. in Naples. The economy has taken a toll on their business, and this windfall came at just the right time.
“We’ve suffered along with everyone else and had to downsize drastically and borrow money in order to keep going,” said Gordon Decker. “It’s definitely going to help us there.”
The Deckers traveled to Florida Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee right away to claim their $1 million prize on the Billion Dollar Blockbuster Scratch-Off ticket. The ticket was claimed in Gordon Decker's name. This marks the 29th winner to claim a $1 million prize in the popular scratch-off game; 91 $1 million prizes remain.
“I think it will put a bigger smile on our face. I think it will take out some of the worry wrinkles,” said Patti Decker.
According to Florida Lotto officials, Gordon Decker chose the one-time, lump-sum payment option for his winnings in the amount of $650,000.
The $20 scratch-off game, Billion Dollar Blockbuster, offers the highest cash payout of any game in Florida Lottery history. The game launched on Feb. 24, 2009, and features more than $1 billion in prizes, including 10 instant-win prizes of $10 million. To date, the game has awarded more than $234.9 million in prizes.
This wasn’t the first time the Deckers won the lottery. In 1997, they won $25,000 from the Fantasy Five, said Patti Decker.
“I’m a pretty lucky lady,” she said. “I’m lucky in a lot of ways; my friends I have, the husband I have, and my staff I have, and the company I own...I’m very blessed.”