Judith Smith was furloughed during the government shutdown, which stretched from December to January.
Smith bought the Pick 6 ticket that would change her life on Dec. 17, just days before the government shutdown. The ticket was purchased at a Staten Island, New York, liquor store. She and her kids put the ticket in a safe place while seeking out legal and financial advice before coming forward to claim the jackpot, according to CBS News.
Smith, who has been a park ranger since 1988, was one of many government employees who went without a paycheck for 35 days.
“I still can’t believe it,” she told CBS News.
She came forward this week to collect her $29.5 million prize.
Smith plans on purchasing a home in Florida so she can be closer to her daughter who lives there. She says she also plans to take care of her children and grandchildren.