MILO, Maine — Karen Meservey is on a hot streak.
Last Thursday night, the 53-year-old Milo woman bagged $2,000 in bingo winnings at the Eagles Club in Brewer.
The next night, she won $500,000 after buying a $20 instant game ticket at LJ’s Express, a gasoline station and convenience store on Elm Street in Milo. She waited until she got home to scratch off the ticket, a Mega Multiplier, which she said is a luxury she usually can’t afford.
“I was sitting there having coffee with my brother and it was just like someone pushed the air right out of me,” Meservey said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “I said his name three times. That’s all I could get out,” she said, joking that her brother Edward, who lives nearby, probably thought she was having a heart attack.
After a sleepless weekend, Meservey said she returned to the store on Monday to confirm that she actually held a winning ticket. Store employees said that she did.
“She brought it in to us because she wasn’t sure,” Tracey Gray, store manager at LJ’s Express, said Tuesday.
“I offered her $20 for [the winning ticket],” Gray quipped, adding that the store does a brisk business in lottery tickets, both scratch tickets and draw tickets for games such as Powerball and Megabucks.
“At first we were going to keep it quiet,” Meservey said of her good fortune. The excitement, however, proved too much to bear alone, so she told a few family members, including her former husband.
“He couldn’t believe it,” she said. “He’s still in shock.”
She also told her grown children, who live in Milo, Dover-Foxcroft and Bangor, she said.
Mike Boardman, marketing manager for the Maine State Lottery, said instant game wins such as Meservey’s are not that unusual.
During the past year, he said, the lottery has seen 55 people win $100,000 or more. He provided the following breakdown: three $1 million instant winners, four $500,000 instant winners, two $300,000 instant winners, 10 $250,000 instant winners and 36 $100,000 instant winners.
That total, however, does not yet reflect Meservey’s win.
Boardman said Tuesday that $500,000 winners receive checks in the amount of $350,000, or what is left after the withholding tax is taken out. LJ’s Express will receive a $5,000 bonus for selling Merservery the winning ticket, he said.
“We have big winners like this on a regular basis but it never gets old seeing the excitement of the winners and presenting them with an oversized check,” he said Tuesday.
In answer to the top question on everyone’s minds — what she plans to do with her winnings — Meservey said simply, “I want to buy a house. That and probably an early Christmas for the grandchildren,” she said.
Meservey said she has never owned a home. She hasn’t been able to afford one, she said, adding that she is disabled and on MaineCare.
Meservey said she has had the same landlord for more than 25 years.
There is another thing she wants to do: “I’ve always wanted to see SeaWorld,” she said. “I know it’s not exotic or anything, but I’d rather see SeaWorld than Disney.”