When most people win millions in the lottery, they think of paying off debts, buying a big new house, maybe a couple of cars, and most of all, quitting their jobs. But not Tyrone Curry. Five years after he won $3.4 million, he still lives in the same small house and drives the same old car he did before he won -- and he still works at the same job -- as a janitor at a Seattle high school.
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Of course, some things changed. He bit at a phone solicitation for a time-share in Las Vegas, but he's never used it. He's too busy helping family and friends and the kids at Evergreen High School, where, in addition to custodial duties (for which he rises at 4:00 a.m.), he also coaches track.
Curry's one big splurge since he won the money? Spending $40,000 to replace the school's old cinder track. He'd also like to expand the school's tennis courts -- there are only four, with over 100 kids wanting to play on them.
He did spend a little of the money on himself. He and his wife Michelle were in the middle of bankruptcy when he won the lottery, so he settled that, then put in a new heat pump, added vinyl siding, a new fence and a new driveway to the small house they live in with a 2-year-old grandson, two stepsons and two in-laws.
It's a bit crowded, but Curry likes it that way. "My mom was the mother of the neighborhood. All the kids came to our house, so that's why my home is open, too. People come, they eat, and they have fun." Curry told NBC's Bob Dotson for the "Today" show. "I always remember my mom's words: 'You can have somethin', but that person next to you might not have anything. If you look out for that someone, they'll look out for you.'"
Curry continues to look out for others -- especially the students at his school. One of those students is track team captain DeVante Botello, whose father is not around and whose mother died of a heart attack just before his graduation. Botello said that his life and his family were falling apart. The 18-year-old honor student was floundering, and Curry noticed, gave him support and encouragement, and offered to pay for his college education.
"He's my hero," Botello told NBC. And Curry is not yet done being a hero to others. He's still out there, buying more lottery tickets every week, with the hope of helping even more people. It's not the heroism that drives him -- it's kindness, love and respect for his fellow man. His heart is bigger than anything $3.4 million could buy.
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