Orangevale couple win California Lottery ‘foodie’ scratcher contest

Clayton Barnes used this photo with his wife, Sherryl, to win the California Lottery’s “Ultimate Foodie Experience” contest.
Clayton Barnes used this photo with his wife, Sherryl, to win the California Lottery’s “Ultimate Foodie Experience” contest. Courtesy of Clayton Barnes

Clayton and Sherryl Barnes will check another item off their bucket list when they dine at The French Laundry restaurant in Napa this fall.

The Orangevale couple won the California Lottery’s “Ultimate Foodie Experience” contest last week. Players had to buy an Emerald 10’s Scratchers ticket, take a photo with the ticket and write a caption.

Of the 1,200 entries, Clayton Barnes, 39, won over lottery officials with a caption that began, “This prize isn’t just an ultimate food experience; for us this single extraordinary dinner is the sum culmination of all future missed dinners of a lifetime.”

Sherryl Barnes, 38, was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer in 2011. The rare cancer affects the thin membrane that surrounds organs. By the time doctors discovered it, the cancer had already spread to Barnes’ liver and pancreas, her husband said.

“She’s a fighter,” Clayton Barnes said. “She wouldn’t leave the hospital until they found what was wrong with her.”

The couple met in high school, while growing up in Orangevale and Granite Bay. They have been together for over 20 years.

The French Laundry is a famed institution where a prix fixe menu goes for $295. The Barneses won the “Black Card Experience,” which begins with a bottle of champagne and ends with an 18-course tasting menu and wine pairing. Guests also receive BMW shuttle service to the restaurant and a gift from Chef Thomas Keller, the only American chef to have multiple restaurants with three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide.

The lottery prize also includes a two-night stay at the Napa Valley Lodge.

“It’s quite the trip,” Clayton Barnes said. “Before we heard about the contest, the restaurant was already on our bucket list.”

Doctors gave Sherryl Barnes three years to live. While she has had some “close calls,” her husband said, for the most part she is living life like any healthy person. She eventually hopes to see her daughter, Briella, 4, get married.

Other destinations the Barneses have checked off their bucket list include Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Yellowstone National Park.

Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.