IF there’s one prayer request that I would imagine God hears all day everyday, it’s the one requesting a big lottery win.
Imagine being one of the lucky individuals to have that prayer answered by striking it big, I mean $10,000 big, what would you do?
Well, today’s FITC was one of those lucky individuals who bought a Sweetheart Cash Scratch Card in 2011, shortly after Hurricane Tomas had its way with the island and really struck it big.
Ronelle B. is a 34 year old Castries resident who has always been there for loved ones in times of need. She prides herself on her loyalty and her closeness with her friends and family. Even with these humble qualities, life has handed her its share of bad hands but that never dimmed her bright light or stopped her from praying and believing in a brighter future.
Eventually, when she needed it most, her prayers were answered at the perfect time and today, the friendly and trustworthy winner is telling her story of a tiny piece of paper that helped her out in a massive way.
The VOICE: How long have you been playing the lottery?
Ronelle: At the time I won, not long, only a few weeks really. I got into it because my mother was always playing, buying a lotto ticket, “Winlotto” (at the time) or scratch ticket. So I started buying a couple of scratch and Lucky 3 tickets for myself at the same time.
The VOICE: You had a big win a few years ago, tell me about that experience.
Ronelle: Well first let me say that I could not even believe my eyes at the time. I had to get verification from a friend who was with me at the time and said something along the lines of “do my eyes deceive me???” After it was verified and I had calmed down somewhat and then my next reaction was THANK YOU, JESUS! At the time, I had just lost my job, things were heading towards rough and I really hated being dependent on anyone so it was a great load off my shoulders.
The VOICE: Did the money change you or your life in any way?
Ronelle: Well, in the immediate future, it did. I was totally debt free for the first time in my adult life. I paid off all outstanding bills, upgraded a few things that needed to be upgraded and treated myself to some relaxation.
The VOICE: How were you treated by family and friends?
Ronelle: Not at all different; firstly because those who knew also knew my situation and secondly because I have really good friends who were just as happy for me as I was for myself. I got some good advice which I took, the best of which was to wait a few days before touching the money so that I could decide on the best use of it. I have never regretted that.
The VOICE: Have you continued playing since then?
Ronelle: I have. These days I play more consistently, but not to the exclusion of all else. In the weeks immediately following the win, I also won some money playing the Lucky 3 which was, and still is one of my favourites. But I never changed my play pattern, i.e. I decide what I want to spend weekly and stick to it no matter what. Also, sometimes you must take a break, so over the years I have also done that.
The VOICE: If you struck it big again, what would you do differently this time around?
Ronelle: Not much really, I would still take time to make spending decisions and probably invest some in myself, maybe travel to Europe now that it has become easier (laughs)! Depending on how big the win, I’d invest in some land or maybe a business venture!
The VOICE: Do you think that the lottery is a blessing or just a fool’s fantasy?
Ronelle: A bit of both really. It is a blessing for those who play responsibly and win. They can see the benefit of it. For those who cannot or will not control themselves it can be a curse, and for the many that will never so much as break even it is definitely a fool’s fantasy…like fools gold, it only shines for a short time then you have to figure out your place and decide if it’s worth it.
The VOICE: There are some people who seemingly spend everything they have on this game of chance, what do you think about this behaviour?
Ronelle: I think that as adults we should all be aware of the possible impacts of our behaviours and actions on not only ourselves but our families. I applaud anyone who takes a chance to change their circumstance; it is no different really than applying for a new job or moving location in an effort to improve yourself. However, in all of this we must remain aware that not every move is a smart one. Spending all what you earn trying to earn more is not a smart move. I am sure that the SNL (St. Lucia National Lottery) never intended for people to allow their families to suffer for the games. As such I advise all who play to continue to do so responsibly and if you cannot control yourself, get some help! What good is a lottery win if it doesn’t cover what you spent to get it? Get smart!!!
The VOICE: To the die hards who are addicted, do you have any advice for them?
Ronelle: Take a moment to see what your addiction is doing to you and those around you, get help and start being responsible. The lottery is a great thing for those who win, those who play smart and those who play occasionally, for the others, get out whilst you can.