October 2, 2007
Valley Winner of $60 Million Lottery Credits Lucky Charm
By SUSAN ABRAM
VAN NUYS - An English-born Studio City entrepreneur with an unflinching belief in positive thinking and the power of magic charms found affirmation in the form of a winning $60 million lottery ticket.
Zorina Kroop, 63, traced her good fortune in the latest Mega Millions jackpot to a lucky blue dot affixed to a small white card - - a charm she purchased from an ad in the National Enquirer several years ago.
Speaking to television news crews Friday, the owner of a janitorial-service company said the cherished object, which she keeps in her purse at all times, has also seen her through many successful trips to the slot machines in Laughlin, Nev.
"Buy a blue dot, read (the self-help book) 'The Secret' and stay positive," Kroop advised.
During the news conference at the Airtel Plaza Hotel, California Lottery officials presented Kroop with an oversize check that covered much of her petite frame.
For days, Kroop's identity had been unknown to officials who knew someone had purchased the winning ticket at a Studio City 7-Eleven.
But Kroop was at a party for a new shop opening on Ventura Boulevard that night, unaware the winning ticket was in her purse -- which she had left under a chair on the floor.
"Imagine," she said, in a faint British accent, "$60 million on the floor."
On Tuesday, she visited the 7-Eleven to run her tickets into a scanner and was told to see the clerk. Upon inspecting the ticket, the clerk asked if he could speak with her privately in the back room.
"I had known him for years, so I wasn't afraid," she said. "He said, 'Sit down. ... You've just won the Mega Million.' It's still not real to me."
Mega Millions tickets are sold here and in Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
California joined the Mega in 2005. Since then, there have been six multimillion-dollar winners statewide, including Kroop.
Her lucky strike also extends to Shoukat Ali, the franchise owner of the 7-Eleven, who received a $300,000 check for selling the winning ticket.
After a portion of the money is paid to the 7-Eleven corporate owners, Ali said, he would divide the rest among himself and his employees.
"I'm delighted," he said. "I hope other people win."
Kroop came to California from England when she was 12 to rejoin her mother, who had remarried.
She worked in bakeries and beauty salons, learning skills along the way. At one point she worked in a bank, but later became bored. She started her own janitorial company about 20 years ago and has developed it into a successful business.
Kroop said she has faithfully played 10 tickets twice a week for years. Her big win is still sinking in.
She has chosen to receive the money in a lump sum of more than $30 million after taxes.
For now, she has a few plans.
She wants to travel abroad to meet the 844 cousins she found after running a search on the Internet last year. She wants to hire a skilled nurse to care for her elderly mother. She would like to buy a condo for her aunt and uncle and help her son pay off his home. And she wants to donate money to pancreatic cancer research, a disease that took the life of her husband.
Kroop said being a newly minted millionaire won't change her much.
She still plans to run her janitorial company, though she already has splurged on one luxury item.
"The first thing I did when I found out I won was instead of buying the Ralphs brand garbage bags," she said, "I bought the Heftys."
(c) 2007 Daily News; Los Angeles, Calif.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.