Sandy Grant, who won $10 million with a scratch card on Saturday, is sitting in the front room of her modular home in Edgartown, swatting flies with a rolled-up instruction manual. Her count is two kills from 10 attempts since the conversation with a reporter began. “I’ve been looking to get a fly swatter,” she says thoughtfully, still musing on the viability of the idea. It is the type of item Ms. Grant feels she can now afford, but it is important for her to need the things she buys.
This makes sense — it was less than a week ago that Ms. Grant, 58, needed to travel out of her way in search of a bargain. “When you’re a person who works you wait for the sales,” she says. She has worked more than one job for as long as she can remember. “I heard Reliable Market was having this big sale so I headed down to get a few things.” A few minutes later, after a stop to pick up a scratch card at Our Market in Oak Bluffs, she was a multi-millionaire.
Her reaction was not typical.
Taking a coin to the last line of the scratch card in the Our Market parking lot she turned back into the store for the attendant to read the “$10 million dollars,” she thought she saw printed at the bottom of the ticket. After getting confirmation on this and thanking the manager, she got back in her car and drove on to the grocery shop. “I got to the dog food section and I thought ‘Well, I don’t have to go for the home brand here, I’ve got some money coming to me,’ ” she says. So she got some dry dog food. “That stuff’s very expensive,” she adds, perhaps sensing she has failed to relay the extravagance of this purchase.
Then she went home and started calling. She invited cousins and friends round for dinner the following night. She spent the day cooking a roast ham, turkey and homemade strawberry shortcake. “It was all my favorite stuff, but it was great to share it. So what if you have a lot of dishes to do at the end? It’s more exciting than just a girlfriend and boyfriend sitting there celebrating.”
She did splurge a little when she went in person to pick up her winnings from the lottery headquarters in Braintree on Tuesday. “ ’Course I had to get my hair done before,” she says. “Living in Katama your hair doesn’t stay in place much. And I did my makeup so I looked okay for the lottery office. That was a good idea, right?” She carries the weight of expectation of everyone who has ever imagined what they would do with a million dollars.
Ms. Grant was born and raised in Edgartown and has lived in the village all her life. “I’ve been playing the lottery for quite a few years,” she says, “I won two thousand dollars last month. I guess you could say I’m lucky.” The odds of a thousand dollars are approximately ten thousand to one. The odds of winning $10 million on the Billion Dollar Blockbuster are staggeringly long: 1 in 6,552,000.
The money doesn’t come at once — there are 20 equally-weighted checks issued over 20 years. Ms. Grant tries to imagine where she’ll be by then. “I’ll be 78. I just hope I’m still active and healthy. By then my son will have been married and I’ll have grandchildren. And I will have done my traveling.”
She has thought about a cruise, a rite of passage for lottery winners, but for her the motivation is more personal than most: working as a tour bus guide and doubling as a taxi driver she has yearned to be on the other side of that particular tourist transaction. “I would watch the cruise boats come into the harbor and I always thought, it’s a beautiful image out there. I would ask all those people, ‘What’s it like out there? Is there room for one more?’ ” she says. “They have good food prepared on those boats . . . and they take care of you.”
Her circumstances are unique and her spending habits are bound to reflect that. For instance, the immediate benefactors of her multimillion dollar windfall will be the seven miniature horses she has grazing at the back the house; she calls them her four-legged children. They will be getting leather halters, maybe with their names on them. One of the tiny horses, Flicka, is currently being trained to pull a cart. “I want to get back into driving horses,” says Ms. Grant, who has had a lifelong passion for riding and showing horses. She gave up riding horses at the end of her 20s when, working two jobs and trying to secure the future for her new son, she feared that she wouldn’t be able to pay medical bills or to miss work, if she ever fell. Instead she began to breed, transport and sell miniatures.
In a moment of uncharacteristic fiscal recklessness she bought a new car last year, a Honda Accord. “I knew I shouldn’t be doing it,” she said, “but I thought I just have to make the payments somehow.” Obviously issues like this will not be a problem now but her worries aren’t over and she hasn’t been sleeping the past few days. “It’s exciting and it’s scary,” she says, “I’ve been spacing out. I haven’t even fed the horses yet today.” But she is taking her next steps tentatively. “Some people would faint and scream or hop on the boat, but I’ve got to think. I’ve got to talk to some people.” One of the people she has talked to is a financial advisor. “I know the stock market’s not doing good at the moment and I’m no good on that stuff anyway.”
Though she is adamant that she always liked working and has enjoyed her job-juggling, she has already made a call to her boss at the tour bus company. “I told him to take me off schedule for the summer,” she says. The taxi work is history too. “I liked it but I had to stay with the taxi all day and I couldn’t check on the animals.”
She issues a quick reminder that it is all still sinking in. “Now I have to go and make a deposit at the bank,” she says, suddenly giddy. “You can probably guess what it is.”