Cynthia Stafford puts great stock in the power of positive thinking. “Everything starts with your thoughts,”
she says. “Whatever it is you want to achieve, you’ve got to believe in it first.”
One thing Stafford believed in fervently was providing a loving home for the five children of her brother Keith, who was killed in a 1999 car accident. After rescuing the kids from foster care, Stafford quit her job as a computer-training account executive and settled in to be a full-time aunt. As the years ticked by, money grew tight. “The kids were asking for things,” she says. “I did not like telling them no.” The solution came in a vision. When the number $112 million appeared in her mind in late 2004, Stafford wrote it down, put it under her pillow and set her mind to winning the lottery. “I would meditate on it a few moments a day,” she recalls. “I would see myself winning.”
When a Quick Pick jackpot rose to her magic $112 million mark in the spring of 2007, Stafford bought a ticket. The winning number, announced on Mother’s Day, proved to be hers alone. “It definitely changed my way of living,” she says. She divided the haul with her dad and another brother. Childcare and expenses had been “a family effort,” she says. “It just felt right.” She also set money aside for her nieces’ and nephews’ futures, started a foundation that exposes underprivileged local kids to the arts and indulged a self-professed shopaholic streak (many Birkin purses, one Bentley convertible). Then Stafford got back to the business of positive thinking. She envisioned a film production company, then founded it. She also envisioned her perfect guy. “I had a list of qualities I wanted,” she says. She found him-on the set of her first movie. Now married to Lanre Idewu, 35, who owns a fitness company, Stafford still plays the lottery. “Why not?” she says, laughing. “This time I’m visualizing a much larger amount.