When Kari Johns lost her sister to a car wreck in February, she started buying Missouri Lottery tickets in hopes of winning enough money to help pay for the funeral. She trusted that her cause was noble enough that God would reward her with a win. When she uncovered a $50,000 top prize on a “Slingo” Scratchers ticket, she attributed her good fortune to “playing for the right reason.”
“I’ve been playing for my sister,” began Johns. “I just found out yesterday that the funeral had already been paid for by her life insurance, after I got the ticket.”
She was stunned and grateful for the win, but the news left her with no idea on how to spend the windfall. Johns bought the winning ticket on her way to work as a home health care assistant. She stopped at Casey’s General Store, 3215 S. Highway 19, in Salem.
“Well, I did the bingo the night before, so I thought I’d do the Slingo (ticket), and I’d won $21 on the bingo, so I took $12 of the $20 and got four of those,” she explained. “It was the fourth one, and I scratched it first.”
Johns, 22, scratched the winning ticket at her client’s home, who was equally surprised.
“I said, ‘Buella, I think I just won $50,000. You’re my lucky charm!’ She said, ‘Oh, my goodness!’,” recalled Johns.
She went back to Casey’s General Store to check the ticket right away, called her grandparents and started making plans to claim the prize in Jefferson City. Her grandparents, James and Beverly Whitaker, accompanied Johns to Jefferson City on March 6.
“Did you scratch the others?” asked Beverly.
“It took me a long time,” responded Johns with a laugh.
“She was crying and laughing at the same time,” added Beverly about her phone call following the win.
Johns noted that she had been feeling sorry for herself, but had become determined to look for the positive aspects in life. She added that “it was crazy” that this good had come out of tragedy.
“I lost my sister, but she’s been an inspiration for a lot of people, because she had a wreck before and changed her life around,” she said. “I thank God.”
“Slingo” is a $3 game that officially began Jan. 2. Johns claimed the third top prize of six in the game. More than $5 million in prizes remain.