SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - For the last week-and-a-half, 10-year-old Sydney Fialkow has been holding onto a secret that is worth $70,000 to her family and school.
"I wrote notes on my hand saying, 'don't you dare,'" said Fialkow.
The fifth grader was told to keep quiet about her big win in an online contest until it was revealed on national television. Her classmates gathered in the gymnasium of The Epstein School Wednesday afternoon to watch and cheer.
Sydney used an old family recipe to notch her victory.
Uncle Ben's offered a big payoff to the student who impressed them with a video promoting family togetherness in the kitchen. Sydney Fialkow, her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother gathered to prepare a chicken and rice dish that had been passed down for five generations.
"She helps out a lot in the evenings with dinner," said Manny Fialkow of his daughter's willingness to help around the kitchen. "She takes control on weekends cooking her brother's breakfast."
Her chicken and rice performance won Sydney $20,000 and another $50,000 for a cafeteria make over at school.
"This kitchen is really old," said Epstein lunch lady Jane Escalera. "It's from the 1960's and we have pretty much the original equipment that's been here."
Sydney found out over a week ago that she'd won the contest that fetched 700 entries and 45,000 online votes. She traveled to New York to tape the big announcement on the Rachel Ray Show, but had to keep it quiet until the big reveal Wednesday.
Most here had no idea when he entire Epstein school gathered to watch.
The gymnasium erupted with joy when the announcement came.
"It hasn't changed my life," said Sydney of her newfound celebrity. "I'm ready for it to die down."
She plans to put most of her winnings toward a college fund, but will invest in a laptop computer and give some to charity.