Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman Let Down When White Elephant Gift Is 'Stolen,' Doesn't Realize Life-Changing Item She Got Instead


A Kentucky woman was likely disappointed after losing her chosen $25 TJ Maxx gift card at an office white elephant party Wednesday.

What office manager Lori Janes got in exchange, however, changed her life.

A white elephant exchange, sometimes called a “Yankee swap” or “Dirty Santa,” is a party game in which each player adds a gift into one communal pool.

Usually these gifts are have a price cap and a price minimum to level the playing field. Participants then take turns selecting a gift — the order’s normally random.

The first gift-opener chooses a present from the pool and opens it. Each subsequent player then has a choice: They can either open a gift from the pool or steal an already-unwrapped gift from one of the other participants.

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Any time someone has been “robbed” they have the option to either open another gift or steal from someone else. Generally, one cannot steal back one’s own gift immediately after losing it, and most people play with a rule stating how many times a given gift can be stolen.

Regardless of the house rules put into place by family, friends or coworkers, it’s still pretty rare to pull something worth $175,000.

Odds notwithstanding, that’s exactly what happened.

Once a coworker “stole” her TJ Maxx gift card, Janes decided to take the gamble on $25 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets, KSAZ-TV reported.

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“Once it got to me, it was done and mine to keep. That’s when everyone was telling me to scratch them off,” she said.

With everyone watching, she started scratching the tickets off. The first one won $50 — already a pretty significant upgrade.

Once she scratched the second Kentucky Lottery ticket off, however, she knew $50 wasn’t really that a big a deal. What’s $50 compared to $175,000?

“Everyone was going insane,” Janes said. “People were getting their calculators out and double-checking. A couple of people even scanned the ticket on the lottery’s app, just to make sure.”

It was for-real.

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“I couldn’t believe it. It was a twenty-five-dollar gift exchange, and I won one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars!”

Lori arrived at lottery headquarters hours later with her husband and two children. She received a check for $124,250 after taxes.

“This is so crazy. I’m truly blessed,” she said.

She told lottery officials that she’d use the money to pay off her daughter’s student loans and their cars, according to KSAZ.

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