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$17 million California lottery winner claims prize

Apr 5, 2012, 9:45 am

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California Lottery

Bakersfield, California, now knows which of its citizens won $17 million over the weekend playing the lottery.

A Bakersfield mother of five, who was about to be evicted after her home went into foreclosure, has no reason to worry about finding her next home.

Teresa Serrano hit the jackpot, winning $17 million. Her daughters were overcome with emotion and tears of joy for their mother, who got her first job in the United States picking tomatoes at age 13.

"I can't believe it. I'm still in shock," said daughter Dania Arvizu.

Serrano bought $4 worth of SuperLotto Plus tickets for Saturday's draw. She randomly picked all six winning numbers on one ticket.

She then went home and placed the ticket under a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Pope John Paul II.

"She got it, kissed it and placed it over here," said daughter Cynthia Landeros.

California lottery officials presented Serrano with an oversized check Tuesday in Fresno. Serrano and her husband Agustin opted to take the $11.5 million lump sum option.

Arriving home after the Fresno trip, family members gathered at the couple's home, still shaking heads in disbelief. Life has not always been this way for the family.

Serrano recalled the time when the family lived in Wasco and the family was down to just $20. The family had no food in the house and the baby needed Pampers.

"My husband asked me whether he should buy Pampers or chicken," said Serrano.

Agustin Landeros wound up buying a small pack of Pampers and used the rest of the money to buy chicken and vegetables. Serrano made chicken soup for the family.

"I'll never ever forget that," said Serrano.

Taking a lump sump payment of $11.5 million, Serrano will receive around $8.5 million after taxes.

The family plans to making a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to give thanks.

The convenience store where Serrano bought the winning ticket, Ming Avenue Shell near Highway 99, will receive a bonus from California Lottery of one-half percent of the winnings or $85,000.

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