HAYWARD — When Michele Dickerson showed up for work Monday morning, her co-workers knew something was wrong.
Dickerson, who works at a credit union in San Francisco, could not concentrate and could barely hold back her tears. She broke down and told her co-workers her secret — the night before, she realized that she was the sole winner of a $32 million jackpot in California's SuperLotto Plus drawing.
There was lots of jumping and screaming when she broke the news, a teary-eyed Dickerson told reporters Tuesday during a news conference in Hayward.
Before arriving for work, Dickerson had stopped by the California Lottery's district office in San Francisco to have the ticket verified and to let them know that she wanted the prize in a lump sum. After taxes, that comes to approximately $14,775,000.
She said she went to work Monday because she was raised to have a strong work ethic. She was even planning to return to work when the news conference was over Tuesday.
At the news conference, Dickerson said she was still in shock.
"I've been doing a lot of crying, so now I'm ready to do a lot of smiling," she said.
She described the experience as very odd and surreal, and she said she hasn't been able to sleep. "It just doesn't compute, really."
Dickerson, who is in her early 40s, said she was raised in San Francisco and now lives in an Alameda County city — she would not be more specific — with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.
She was in San Lorenzo on Saturday for a school festival for her daughter and dropped into the Model II Liquor store on Lewelling Boulevard to buy a lottery ticket for the Saturday night drawing.
Dickerson, a regular lottery player, said she has been picking the same numbers — a combination of relevant dates having to do with family members — since January 2008.
"It's nice to put down the people's information that you love on the ticket," she said.
It was not until Sunday evening that she checked the numbers on her laptop. Her husband told her, "You're a millionaire."
She opened and shut the laptop for about 30 minutes looking at the numbers and crying. "I didn't think it was real," she said.
Dickerson said she plans to buy another home, take her large extended family on a vacation, and perhaps start her own business.
But for now, she wants to take some time to figure out what to do next.
She has yet to tell her daughter the news so as not to distract her before upcoming tests at school.
As her husband and teary-eyed sister looked on from behind the cameras, Dickerson said that she could empathize with those who are hurting in the current economy. Her husband was laid off in July, she said.
"I think that's why I cried more than I was joyous yesterday, at first. "... I know it is most definitely a blessing. I'm extremely thankful."
Jason Sweeney covers San Lorenzo. Reach him at 510-293-2469.