Patricia Rivera never paid much attention to fortune cookies.
From now on, it’s a safe bet she will.
Wednesday, Rivera claimed a $138,000 Nebraska Pick 5 lottery jackpot she won by playing numbers she found in a fortune cookie message.
Last month, the North Platte woman went out with her family to eat at a Chinese restaurant.
The tiny slip of paper in Rivera’s after-dinner fortune cookie suggested that good luck was headed her way.
“I found one that said I’d win a prize,” Rivera told lottery officials.
Normally, Rivera just tosses the fortune cookie. This time, her daughter Sabrina encouraged her to eat it. And she tucked away the fortune.
Three days later, Rivera stopped by a Kwik Stop convenience store to buy some ice. She told lottery officials that she plays about once a month, and she decided to buy a ticket for the Sept. 29 Pick 5 game. She entered the numbers from her family’s fortune cookies, including the set from her own: 8, 10, 21, 28, 29.
A few days later, Rivera checked the tickets on a Nebraska Lottery app.
“I’m still in shock,” Rivera said.
She told lottery officials that she expects to use her winnings to pay bills, do some home renovations, and buy new cars for herself and her husband.
Winning the lottery with fortune cookie numbers isn’t unheard of.
In March 2005, a then-record 110 people won $500,000 and $100,000 prizes by matching five of six numbers in a single drawing of the multistate Powerball lottery game.
Several of the winners reported that they won using the same set of numbers they found in a fortune cookie. Powerball officials at the time guessed that most of the winners probably got their numbers that way because in a typical drawing, there are about four players who match five numbers.
Patricia Rivera isn’t the only Nebraska Pick 5 winner this week. Thursday, a Ravenna man, who requested anonymity, claimed a $74,000 jackpot from Tuesday’s drawing. The man bought the ticket at a Hy-Vee gas station in Kearney. The winning numbers were: 3, 9, 19, 27, 36.