By IKIMULISA LIVINGSTON, REUVEN BLAU and LEONARD GREENE
Last Updated: 3:32 PM, September 24, 2010
Posted: 3:53 AM, September 24, 2010
She's been homeless, bankrupt, a robbery victim and assaulted on the job -- but radiant Rikers Island guard Garina Fearon now has 54 million glorious reasons to start living la dolce vita.
The 34-year-old single mom from East New York, Brooklyn, who has endured a lifetime of hardship and poverty, told The Post she's the mystery winner of last Friday's Mega Millions drawing.
"I wanted a better life. I was struggling as a single parent," a beaming Fearon said yesterday. "I've really come back from nothing."
She never imagined such joy was possible when she was down to her last $25 six years ago and forced to file for bankruptcy.
Hard times struck again two years later, when burglars robbed her apart ment while she was at work guarding danger ous inmates.
Fearon, who spent part of her youth in a homeless shelter with no stable family, went on to endure sickening abuse from the monsters in her care.
"She's had feces thrown in her face and on her uniform in the years that she's been there," said a fellow jail guard. "She's a tough young lady."
How she won is as re markable as her change of fortune.
Fearon said she bought the wrong ticket at a Sutter Ave nue bodega, where she went to play Powerball, not Mega Millions.
"I only play every six months or so," said Fearon, who has a 16-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.
She held on to the ticket all weekend, and didn't think about it until Monday, when she asked a co-worker for a newspaper. She scribbled the winning numbers on the back of an inmate pass as her shift ended.
As she waited for the bus, she made the amazing discovery.
"I was about to fold up the lottery ticket," Fearon said. "Then I saw the numbers, and I started running from one part of the parking lot to the other screaming."
She still hasn't come down from her high.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "It's something unexpected."
The first thing on her "to-do" list was to talk to supervisors at the Correction Department. She said she feels too loyal to the job to let it go, even with all that money coming her way.
"I'm going to go to my job to get some days off," Fearon said. "I don't want to resign."
Fearon said it was her correction career that rescued her from her financial ruin.
Her top priority is taking care of her ailing mom.
"I'm from Jamaica," Fearon said. "I have a sick mother. She has diabetes, and I'm going to buy my mom a house in Jamaica."
Fearon said she will take the lump-sum option, which will pay her about $30 million before taxes. Beyond that, she's not sure what she'll do next.
"I don't know anything about all this kind of money," she said.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/gilded_cage_for_jail_guard_YfbhNwgqc0ICMGZHedBeYO#ixzz10UmJRu1t