Patricia Eisel thanks the post-Christmas blizzard for her riches.
A waitress at The Saloon on West Beech Street, Eisel had tickets to travel to her native Ireland, but the late December storm snowed her in. Days later, on Jan. 5, she used tip money to play Lotto and won $21.5 million.
“If I got out I wouldn’t have bought the ticket,” Eisel, 40, said during a press conference at the Garden City Hotel on Thursday. “I wouldn’t have been home. It’s karma.”
Eisel played a combination of six numbers that included her birthday: 4 – 6 – 11 – 18 – 20 – 33. She was cleaning clothes at a West End laundromat when she decided to check her numbers.
“My heart was pumping so fast that I didn’t know what to think,” Eisel said when she found her numbers matched.
She called her friend, left her clothes behind at the laundry mat, picked up her three young children, and two hours later remembered to pick up her laundry. “Their laundry didn’t get folded, it just got thrown in the bag,” she laughed.
Eisel claimed her prize at the New York State Lottery's Customer Service Center in Garden City on Jan. 18, and she and several other lesser lottery winners displayed their oversized checks at the Garden City Hotel on Jan. 27. Eisel opted for a one-time lump sum payment that, after withholdings, will net her $7.9 million.
“She’s had to struggle monthly to support her children,” said her attorney Dorothy Going. “So this is just a God send.”
Eisel move to the United States in 1995 and settled in Long Beach six years later, after which she got a job at The Saloon in her West End neighborhood.
“She has no money,” Going said. “She waitresses and babysits to feed her kids.”
Eisel buys lottery tickets once a week, occasionally remembers to check her numbers unless there is an especially big pot, and doesn’t superstitiously play particular numbers each week.
Meanwhile, she has kept relatively quiet about her winnings. She has yet to tell her mother and children, and even the storeowner who sold her the winning ticket.
“She was here just before but she didn’t mention anything to me,” said Max Eshaghi, who owns both Sand Castle Fine Wines & Spirits, where Eisel bought her ticket, and the adjacent laundry mat that she frequents. Eshaghi noted that he only learned of her good luck from a salesperson on Tuesday.
Eisel hopes her mother doesn’t find out before she visits her soon, this time on her own dime. “I don’t want to give her a heart attack,” Eisel said about her delay.
Eventually, too, she’ll have to break the news to her sons. What will she tell them? “I don’t know: ‘Mommy won some money and we’re gonna be OK,” she said.
She does know that her first big purchase will be a home for her children, but she hasn't give much thought to where she will move. She doesn’t drive, so she’s not planning on buying a car, but a trip to Disney World may be in her future.
She plans to continue to work at The Saloon, at least for a little while longer, because she considers her customers and her boss to be family.
“I’m going to be a full-time mom, but I don’t want my customers to think I left because I done this,” she said in her still heavy Irish brogue. “There’s enough people at the bar that need the shifts, too. I just want to do it to be close to family. Just to be there and see them.”
Eisel will also continue to play Lotto. In fact, she played again on Wednesday, when it was snowing.
“You have to play when it snows,” she quipped.
Admittedly, she hasn’t checked her ticket yet to see if she won.