Zorina Kroop, a businesswoman who helped build up a thriving overnight janitorial service over the past 27 years, cleaned up somewhere new this week: the lottery.
The 63-year-old Sherman Oaks resident will be announced today by California Lottery officials as the winner of a $60-million Mega Millions jackpot.
Kroop found out that she was the big winner in the multi-state game late Wednesday when she dropped by the 7-Eleven store where for years she has bought lottery tickets twice a week. After scanning her ticket and learning she had won money, Kroop asked the store manager to verify her earnings. The answer came quickly: "He said, 'Sit down. You just won the Mega, $60 million.' And I said, 'You're joking!' "
"I was stunned," Kroop said. "I had to take a tranquilizer, because I was getting palpitations already, I was so excited."
When she woke up Thursday morning, Kroop said, her dog, a Chihuahua, "was sleeping next to me, and I looked at her and I said, 'Chaiya, we're millionaires!' "
Partly to settle her nerves, Kroop went grocery shopping with a cousin Thursday. And Kroop soon decided she could spend her money a little more freely than usual. "I said, 'You know what, I'm not getting the discount plastic bags.' "
Kroop plans to use some of her winnings to hire registered nurses to provide around-the-clock care for her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia and paralysis and is living in a convalescent home. She also plans to pay for her uncle and aunt to live in an assisted-living home.
In addition, Kroop said she will give money to charities that aid research into pediatric AIDS and pancreatic cancer, the disease that took her husband's life more than a quarter-century ago.
But the British-born Kroop, many of whose relatives fled the Nazis in Europe during World War II, also plans to enjoy her money, which she will take in a lump sum of slightly more than $30 million. "I'm going to party. I'm going to see my family in Israel, my family in New York, my family in London, and I'm going to the Greek isles, which has been a dream of mine," she said.
"I'm very, very grateful. This is a wonderful country. Money does grow on trees."