Cary Tullos, left, and Tara Tuttle met via MySpace and take care of Tuttle's two daughters in Coral Springs.

Cary Tullos, left, and Tara Tuttle met via MySpace and take care of Tuttle's two daughters in Coral Springs. (Photo/Courtesy of Cary Tullos / September 17, 2012)

She calls herself “Gypsy,” a reference to the wandering, challenging life she’s led since moving to South Florida 16 years ago.

Except now, Tara Tuttle, 35, is a really rich Gypsy, after cashing a $10 million scratch-off ticket Friday in Tallahassee.

The Coral Springs mother of two, who has been in a domestic partnership for seven years, left Maryland shortly after her parents disowned her for coming out as a lesbian, she said. Making matters more complicated, she also had a newborn daughter.

So she moved to South Florida for a fresh start and to live in a region more conducive to her lifestyle. But she kept moving – at least once a year – in an attempt to stay one step ahead of creditors. Along the way, she had another daughter.


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“I just didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Tuttle recalls. “I just had to grow up very, very fast.”

Tuttle says her life stabilized when she went on a blind date with Cary Tullos, whom she met through MySpace (yes, before Facebook).

“I’m looking for a black-haired, blue-eyed beach girl,” Tuttle says she wrote.

They soon became legal domestic partners and settled into a Coral Springs home to raise the daughters, now 16 and 9. (The new millionaire declines to name the children or their schools.) Tuttle, who has fibromyalgia, workedÖ as a modeling and acting talent scout. Tullos is a regional property manager.

Tuttle says they had a medical scare this month after she and Tullos visited an in-vitro fertilization clinic. Tuttle wanted Tullos to have a child, via the same father as her 9-year-old, but doctors discovered two growths in her breasts.

“We thought it could be breast cancer, and when I found out it wasn’t, I screamed – louder than when I won the lottery,” Tuttle says. “If I could have my wife without the money, or the money without the wife, I’d choose her.”

Of course, their life changed this week, when Tuttle bought a $20 Billionaire Blockbuster Scratch-off ticket at a Coral Springs Publix Wednesday, Sept. 12.

“We had all the bills paid for the week, were getting paid Friday, and there was still $50 left,” Tuttle says.

She scratched off the ticket in the parking lot and was shaking as she walked back into the store and the clerk confirmed it was a $10 million winner. (She’ll take the $6.5 million immediate one-time payment.)

Tuttle has lined up legal and financial representatives, but she says giving the money away is a big priority. She wants to support those people with her 9-year-old’s disorder, Chiari malformation, or structural defects in the cerebellum. She’ll also pay off Cary’s parents’ house, buy nursery items for her sister-in-law and look for ways to help young mothers, children and people with cancer, which killed her father three years ago – but not before Tuttle reconciled with her parents.

“But I’m not going to go buy a Ferrari or a Lamborghini,” she says. “I’ve had to walk down the street without anything, and I’d love to do what I can to help people like that. I was always the person who gave away a dollar to the person on the street before this, so I’m not going to change.

“You know, the past few years, I’ve met a wonderful partner, have great kids and have been happy,” she says. “I’ve kind of felt like a millionaire already.”