Jacklyn Lyte checked her Lotto numbers the night of Dec. 5 and immediately called her sister.
Lyte, a longtime state worker and native of Guyana, had just gone through all the numbers for the $18 million jackpot — they all matched.
“She told me ‘you better go make a cup of tea and sit down,’ ” Lyte said. “Then she called me back and asked ‘are you OK?’ ”
“I’m OK, are you OK?” Lyte responded.
The 58-year-old Lyte still appeared fine Friday, calmly speaking about her win after being announced by the New York State Lottery as the official recipient of the largest such payout in the game’s history to an Albany County winner.
Lyte chose the lump-sum payment, which still netted her just over $9 million before taxes.
Lyte’s win put her in league with previous lottery winners, including Middle Grove resident Fred Jacobs, who won $18 million in 1994, and Alexander Lindop of Mechanicville, who won $25 million in 2000.
Lyte purchased her winning ticket at the Night Owl convenience store on Fulton Street in Troy, near where she worked.
She has played the lottery regularly for years, purchasing tickets the day before both the Wednesday and Saturday drawings. The tickets were always quick picks, no special numbers. She also did not play scratch-offs.
She had won far smaller payouts in the past.
From her perspective, her persistence was a good move.
“It’s a very low investment for a huge return,” she said.
Lyte worked at the state Department of Labor for the past 21 years as a claims examiner. She officially retired from her job this week.
She has lived in the United States since the late 1960s or early 1970s, she said. The family moved here from the South American country of Guyana, apparently an early arrival in the recent influx of Guyanese to the region.
She said she intends to use the money to live comfortably, paying off her daughter’s student loans and buying a house and a better car.
She has three children, ages 14 to 30.
She said the early December win helped brighten an otherwise dreary weather month.
“It was a warm winter,” she said. “I didn’t feel the cold so much.”