By Cliff Dunn
CORAL SPRINGS – Tara Tuttle, 35, may be a day older, but it’s hard to say if she’s deeper in debt. The Coral Springs woman, who told state officials that she had carried an unscratched lottery ticket with her for more than a month, is the winner of $10 million in the Florida Lottery Billion Dollar Blockbuster scratch-off game, the largest lottery prize awarded so far this year in Broward or Palm Beach counties.
Tuttle, who purchased her winning ticket at a Publix supermarket on North University Drive in Coral Springs, told officials that she purchased the ticket after learning that her partner of seven years, Cary Tullos, of Cooper City, had tested negative for breast cancer.
“I had a feeling that it was a lucky ticket but I didn’t want to find out quite yet,” she told lottery officials.
After the shock of winning wore off, Tuttle and Tullos took their two children to Florida Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee to claim the winnings. With her total ticket investment at $20, Tuttle told officials that she would opt for the lump-sum payment of $6.5 million, rather than having the $10 million doled out over ten years.
Tuttle told reporters she plans to use part of the winnings to donate to fighting cancer. According to state lottery officials, although most casual players are familiar with Powerball and the Florida Lotto, scratch-off games account for about 57 percent of statewide ticket sales, and that the “payback” on scratch-off games is approximately 70 percent (compared to 50 percent for “draw” games).
Before Tuttle, the largest prize this year was a $6 million Florida Lotto win in January. No Floridian has won the top Powerball prize this year. In addition, five $10 million and 74 $1 million prizes still remain in the scratch-off game.