Olympia, Wash. – Sometimes you just need a sign…figuratively or literally. That’s what happened to Becky Bell when she was grocery shopping with her daughter at her local Fred Meyer on Sunday, February 5 and glanced over at the Washington’s Lottery vending machine displaying the estimated jackpot amounts for the next Lotto, Hit 5, Mega Millions and Powerball drawings.
When the Auburn resident, who has worked as a Supply Chain Analyst for The Boeing Company in Auburn for nearly 36 years – the same company that just six days earlier had delivered its last 747 jumbo jet – saw that the Powerball jackpot was also an estimated $747 million, she had her sign.
“That’s when it hit me…I had to buy one more ticket,” said Bell.
That ended up being the sole winning ticket to the fifth largest jackpot in Powerball history and largest jackpot ever won in Washington state. When final sales were accounted for, Bell’s ticket, which had the numbers 05, 11, 22, 23, 69 and the Powerball of 07, won her $754,550,826 on the Monday, February 6 drawing, though she didn’t realize it immediately.
“I was working virtually the next day and getting ready for my 6:20 a.m. meeting, and I scrolled over the news widget, and it popped up and I saw a story about the winning ticket being sold in Auburn and thought, ‘That could be me,’” said Bell. “After my meeting, I scanned my first ticket and it wasn’t a winner. Then I scanned the second ticket and it said ‘Winning ticket. Claim at Lottery Office.’ So, I knew I had won at least $600, which was pretty exciting.”
It was only when Bell checked the winning numbers on the WA Lottery app that she realized she had THE ticket.
“I’ve never won more than $20 in my life,” said Bell, “so you can imagine my shock when I realized what had just happened. I just broke down and cried.”
After waking up her son to double check the numbers, then waking up her daughter to triple check, then calling her other daughter to quadruple check, she then texted a picture of the ticket to her sisters and mom and called them for a fifth check of the numbers.
“The funny thing was my mom misheard me when I told her how much I won,” said Bell, who said she would help take care of the family. “She said ‘Seven million…that’s great, honey. Everyone can have a million.’ Then I had to say, ‘No, mom, seven HUNDRED million dollars. Pretty soon, everyone was crying.”
Bell is a regular player who normally plays $20/week on a specific set of lottery games - $6 each for Powerball and Mega Millions and $5 for Hit 5 and $3 for Lotto.
“Her decision to buy that extra ticket certainly paid off,” joked Marcus Glasper, director of Washington’s Lottery. “Frankly, it’s a big thrill for all of us here at Washington’s Lottery to be able to celebrate this big win with Becky. It just goes to show that truly anyone can win.”
Bell had already been planning to retire from Boeing in June and is in the process of training the people who will take over different aspects of her job. She indicated that she plans to finish that transition so as not to leave the company or the new employees in a lurch, though she’s moved up her retirement date to the end of March.
When Bell came in to the Lottery Headquarters in Olympia to claim her prize, officials scanned and validated her ticket and then informed her that one of the other sets of numbers on her winning ticket had also won her an additional $8.
“I told you it was a sign,” laughed Bell.
Washington’s Lottery provides a selling bonus of $50,000 to the retailer who sells a Powerball jackpot ticket, in this case the Fred Meyer located at 801 Auburn Way N in Auburn. On February 9, Fred Meyer announced it was donating the entire sum to the Auburn Food Bank in honor of the company’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste campaign to end hunger and eliminate waste. The money will provide approximately 66,000 meals to the community. Fred Meyer corporate owner, Kroger, also contributed $10,000 for the store employees to celebrate the win.
This is the second time a Powerball Jackpot has been won in the state of Washington and the second time the jackpot has been won in Auburn. The first time was when a woman won the $90 million jackpot back in 2014 after also purchasing the winning ticket in Auburn. That winner’s husband also worked for Boeing in Auburn, coincidentally in the same building as Bell now works.