Lottery winner Tyrone Curry still lives in the same modest Seattle home he shared with his wife and extended family when he won $3.4 million in the lottery. He drives the same car, and even has the same job, five years later. After “cleaning up” in the Washington State Lottery, Tyrone kept right on cleaning — the halls of Evergreen High School that is — where he has worked for 40 years.
He continues sweeping, emptying the garbage and raising the American flag every morning in daily rituals that benefit the community he is central to. The only difference is the additional resources at Curry’s disposal to further enhance students’ lives. And with true dedication to his school, Tyrone will use his lottery winnings to make the Evergreen High property even better. MSNBC.com reports:
Five generations have grown up around him since he came home from war and started taking care of kids. Budget cuts eliminated Tyrone’s teaching assistant’s job 35 years ago, so he stayed on as a janitor. He never went looking for another classroom because he found a better one — and a second job — out back.
You see, Tyrone isn’t just the Evergreen High School custodian; he also coaches the track team. And that’s where he decided to splurge with his lottery winnings.
“I’m getting excited!” he says, watching runners circling toward him on the school’s old cinder track. This summer he’s building them a new one. State-of-the-art. Cost him 40,000 bucks.
“I’m not done,” he chuckles. Tyrone buys more lottery tickets every week. “Our tennis coach, she has, like, a hundred kids tryin’ to play on four courts.” Tyrone dreams of building more. Doesn’t care about the odds. “Life is lucky!” he says. And when it’s not, Tyrone feels it falls to the janitor to fix it.
Not content to improve the facilities alone, Curry has taken it upon himself to help the school’s track team captain through recent misfortunes. When DeVante Botello’s mother died of a heart attack, Tyrone filled the emotional gulf with encouraging words. Curry is now taking care of the college tuition the honor student’s mother was planning to pay.
Botello doesn’t have his father in the picture, so Tyrone is taking on that role, in addition to being his coach, mentor — and hero. DeVante told “The Today Show,” “Coach is probably the most amazing man I’m ever gonna meet. He’s my hero — a real hero [...] Whatever I do with my life is gonna be in honor of Tyrone.”
Tyrone and his wife Michelle had been in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings when he hit it big. After their windfall, it would have been easy for a man who had spent much of his life serving others to choose to focus on himself. But instead he decided to give more. Does being a Vietnam veteran inspire Curry to remain committed to those under his care? He certainly doesn’t do it out of pride.
“I’m just Joe Citizen,” he told NBC’s “Today.” He might be a regular guy, but he is doing the extraordinary. Maybe Tyrone uses his millions to help others, because of the greater emotional wealth that giving brings.