OPELOUSAS, La. – After more than a month of living with dozens of displaced relatives in Opelousas, Jacquelyn Sherman, an evacuee from New Orleans (search), told her niece she was depressed.
That all changed when she won $1.6 million — before taxes — playing a slot machine at Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino (search).
"When it happened, I didn't know what was going on," Sherman said. "I had just put in my $20 in the "Wheel of Fortune" machine when it hit. My feeling about this win is better than being blessed. Thank you, Lord."
Sherman had evacuated to her sister's home in Opelousas as Hurricane Katrina (search) threatened New Orleans. After a month with no end in sight and no prospects, she and her niece began to pray Tuesday.
"I told my aunt that God works in mysterious ways and that I had prayed that something good would happen for the whole family to be happy," Jamie Sherman said.
Later that night, Jacquelyn Sherman and her sister decided to entertain themselves with a trip to Evangeline Downs. Before she knew it, Sherman went from having practically nothing to being a millionaire.
"I have to get an attorney and make some decisions about my future," she said Wednesday at a news conference at the racetrack. "It hasn't all sunk in right now. I'm tired. We were up very late last night and back here very early. I plan to go home right now and rest, take a nap. I have so many thoughts going through my mind about what to do and how to do it."
Jacquelyn Sherman's win is the single largest jackpot won since the casino's opening.