A bartender got a lottery ticket as a tip — then she won $50,000

A Missouri woman raked in thousands thanks to a surprisingly generous patron.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Lyn Mettler

A lucky bartender from Missouri recently took home quite a bit more than the usual 20% tip from a patron's bill.

Taylor Russey, a bartender who works at Bleachers Bar in O'Fallon, Missouri, says she's used to getting tipped in lottery tickets by one of the bar's regulars. Since Bleachers sells lottery tickets, this patron (who has wished to remain anonymous) would also hand out tickets to other customers, too, especially ahead of bigger drawings. The day before a Powerball drawing on Oct. 19, this customer went around the bar handing out tickets to others and, before leaving, left one for Russey as a tip, too.

A Missouri bartender was recently tipped with a winning Powerball lottery ticket. She won $50,000.Getty Images / Getty Images

Russey didn't think much of the ticket until the next day when the bar's lottery terminal alerted her coworkers that their machine had sold a winning ticket worth $50,000.

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"I was like, ‘Guys, who won all this money and didn’t tell anybody?’" Russey said in a press release issued by The Missouri Lottery.

That's when it dawned on her that she hadn't checked the lottery ticket she received from her regular customer. She scanned the ticket at the terminal and was floored after learning that hers was the winner.

The ticket matched four of the five white-ball numbers drawn, plus the Powerball number. Missouri Lottery officials told TODAY Food that Russey's ticket is the 40th in 2019 to match the four white-ball numbers (plus the Powerball), and the second such ticket sold in O'Fallon.

Russey also told TODAY that the tipping customer was the first person she called when she got the news. "He was happy for me," she said.

So what will she do with the money? Russey said that she doesn't want to reveal all of her plans but to start, she plans on taking care of some dental work that isn't currently covered by her insurance.

But she's definitely not done tending bar. "This isn’t enough to sustain me for the rest of my life. I still have to work," she said.

This isn't the first time a lottery ticket left as a tip turned out to be a big winner. In 2016, another Missouri bartender scored a $439,000 ticket tip. At the time, the winner (Sherry Miles of Rocky Mount) said she planned to keep working at the restaurant and use the money to help pay off her home and then remodel it.