Edna residents celebrate local woman's $6 million Lotto Texas jackpot
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Word travels fast in small Texas towns. When news got out that someone hit it big with the lottery, just one question loomed.
Who cashed in?
"Every person I saw was asking who it was," Edna Mayor Joe D. Hermes said with a chuckle. "We thought maybe it was someone who'd just stopped by and pulled in off the highway."
Once people learned that the winner was one of Edna's own, however, he said the town was all smiles.
Lesa Janica claimed the $4,587,242.40 cash value when she won the April 13 $6 million Lotto Texas jackpot, according to a Texas Lottery Commission news release.
Hers was the only ticket sold that matched all six numbers: 4, 13, 14, 18, 26 and 38, according to the release.
Attempts to contact Janica regarding the win were unsuccessful. Friends described her as a private person.
The news release noted, "The claimant requested minimal publicity."
Charlotte Curlee, who attends church with Janica, said she was excited to learn of her friend's windfall.
"It might have been better if it had been my family, but that's OK," she said with a laugh. "But really, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. They are super sweet people."
Curlee, office manager with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, said she couldn't remember any such win in the small town. Like Hermes, she said she was glad that win went to an Edna resident and not someone simply passing through.
Janica's ticket came from Edna's Conners Corner Grocery, 102 E. Houston Highway.
While the win was a major milestone for the Janicas, Debbie VanPelt, who owns Conners with her husband, Michael VanPelt, said they were excited, too.
This was the store's first big-time ticket sale since the VanPelts purchased the business in 2007.
Conners receives a 1 percent - or $60,000 - bonus for selling the winning ticket, she said, noting the amount is somewhat less after taxes. The owners plan to invest the money into the store, remodeling and so on.
The entire experience, Debbie VanPelt said, has been exciting.
"It was a blessing from God," she said. "We're very happy for it, and we're very happy for the winners."
Janica, in the release, described the win as "very exciting but also a little overwhelming."
"We just feel so fortunate and blessed by this opportunity," she said.
A representative with the Jackson County Appraisal District, where Janica worked, said the lottery winner recently left her position.
Hermes said all of Edna was glad for the family but joked that he wouldn't mind seeing others - such as himself - strike it rich, too.
"We're all very happy over here," he said. "I hope they enjoy it. I'm sure they are."