Today in Boston by Ethan Underhill: 4/6/1999 — The Lottery 💸

Every once in a while, throwing a couple extra bucks onto your grocery bill can lead to millions.

Not buying it? Just ask Maria Grasso, a live-in babysitter who today in Boston, 1999, won the single largest individual lottery prize in American history (at that point): $197,000,000.

That’s a LOT of zeroes.

It can be hard to be truly happy for some lottery winners — like former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, who was already a millionaire when he won $900k in 2005 off a Powerball ticket — but this one’s a profoundly different story.

Maria Grasso was 26 when she arrived in the United States from her native Chile in 1971 🇨🇱. Marrying shortly thereafter and ultimately divorcing sometime in the mid-80s, Grasso eventually earned a General Educational Development certificate. She studied @laguardiacc and then @collegeofstatenisland before settling into a teaching assistant job for mentally handicapped adult students in the Big Apple’s public school system.

In 1996, for reasons unbeknownst to we nosy many, Maria Grasso finally shipped up to Boston, where she answered a newspaper ad for a gig babysitting the small children of venture capitalist Chris Gabrieli and tax lawyer Hilary Bacon Gabrieli.

The Gabrielis were probably two of the only people Grasso told once she realized the slip of paper that she bought at the Fenway @Starmarkets was worth nearly 200 million.

But don’t worry. As the Gabrielis set her up with a good lawyer, Maria Grasso insisted on working 2 more full days to make sure that the kids were taken care of.

“I've worked hard all my life,” she eventually explained to a gaggle of reporters outside lottery headquarters in Braintree, “I am one of 6 children, so I always tried to be low-key, and I am going to continue to be that way.”

True to form, Maria Grasso slipped out of the spotlight after walking away with $70,244,814 after taxes. We don’t know what she did with that money, but she promised to keep helping kids.

Something tells me she kept her word.

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