Sandy Davis of rural Morenci has been thinking recently about all the nines in her life.
She bought three $1 lottery tickets in Fayette on Jan. 9 and one of those entitled her to enter a drawing to win a lot of cash. A month later, on Feb. 9, she mailed in her entry for a chance to appear on an episode of the weekly Cash Explosion lottery show in Columbus. Her name was announced on the air March 9 as a future contestant of the show. And April 9? Well, that's the birthday of her late husband.
"Ivan always watched the show and bought tickets," Sandy said. He's the one who wanted to make it onto the show.
There is one more nine connection: Add up three and six to get nine, as in the $36,000 she won on the show.
Each week eight tickets are drawn from a bin of about 20,000 entries and Sandy made the cut for the final four to appear on the show—that along with free lodging in a motel.
Nearly two dozen family members made the trip to Columbus April 2 for the taping of the show, and that proved to be a good time on its own. There were games and give-aways and lots of fun before the serious business began.
As lights bounced around the CASH EXPLOSION game board, Sandy made her three choices. All four contestants were guaranteed to go home with $5,000 in winnings, but Sandy did better than that. One of the letters she chose was good for a $25,000 bonus.
The bonus didn't count toward her regular total winnings of $11,000, so she didn't make the cut to move on to the second round, but she came home with plenty. Taxes cut her profit down to $25,540, but Sandy still thinks it was a pretty good investment of a dollar.
The family went out for dinner afterwards—Sandy's first visit to Columbus since her honeymoon.
"Of course I had to pay since I was the big winner," she said. "It was awesome. All the kids loved it. It was quite a time."
She intends to use the cash for a trip to Rome with her sister, former Morenci teacher Joyce Longo. The pair had already planned the trip, but now Sandy can go without any financial concerns.
"Now I don't have to worry about how to pay the bills," she said. "It's the chance of a lifetime."
Sandy isn't the only big winner. Joyce bought an old architecture book for $8 and suspected it might be valuable. She listed it on-line and quickly received a call from Sotheby's auction house. The company wanted that book and was willing to pay $17,000.
The sisters planned their trip to coincide with that of an acquaintance, Barry Walton, who was returning to Italy this summer with his Italian wife. Now they have tour guides.
Joyce expressed some concerns about getting lost in Rome, a city where she doesn't speak the language, but not Sandy.
"I don't worry much about it," she said.
She intends to extend her lucky streak. She's ready for whatever comes their way.
• Sandy's appearance on Cash Explosion will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Toledo's channel 13.
She was given permission to hold up a poster showing the three missing Skelton brothers, but she's not sure if that will be part of the show.