Virginia Couple Claims $19 Million Jackpot

Joe and Sue Claffy of Rappahannock County were standing at the checkout counter at their favorite grocery store.  Joe had bought a few Virginia Lottery tickets with their groceries and was ready to move on.  Then the clerk asked, “Would you like to play Mega Millions?”

That ended up being a $19 million question. 

Joe bought $6 worth of Mega Millions tickets for the May 15 drawing.  He used the Easy Pick function, allowing the computer to randomly select the numbers on the ticket. When the winning numbers were drawn, 7–12–24–36–48 and the Mega Ball number 27, his ticket matched all six numbers. 

“I nearly fell on the floor,” Sue Claffy later said.  “I kind of got numb.”

They bought the ticket at Martin’s Food Market, located at 409 South Street in Front Royal.  It was one of two tickets nationwide to win and split the $38 million Mega Millions jackpot.  The other winning ticket was bought in Irvine, California.

On May 21, they returned to the store to receive their check from Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto.  The store also received a $50,000 bonus from the Virginia Lottery for selling the jackpot-winning ticket.

The Claffys are both retired.  Joe worked in heavy construction and Sue worked in law enforcement.  They told Lottery officials they intend to use their winnings to take care of family and make a few purchases for themselves. 

This is the fifth time a Mega Millions ticket bought in Virginia has won the jackpot.  It is also the second Virginia Mega Millions jackpot winner this month.  On May 1, a ticket purchased in Spotsylvania County won $75.6 million.  The Lottery presented that prize to Joe Denette of Spotsylvania County on May 12.

The largest jackpot winners in Virginia Lottery history were J. R. and Peggy Triplett of Winchester, who won a $239 million jackpot on February 20, 2004, with a ticket purchased in Stephens City.  They elected to take the cash option of $141.5 million.

“Mega Millions players in Virginia are on a hot streak,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula I. Otto.  “So far in the month of May, there have been two jackpot winners and three $250,000 winners in Virginia.  That’s in addition to the biggest winners with the Virginia Lottery: Virginia’s K-12 public schools.”

Nearly 95 cents of each dollar spent on the Virginia Lottery by players goes back to the Commonwealth in the form of contributions to education, prizes and retailer commissions. Since 1999, all Virginia Lottery profits have been designated solely to K-12 public school education in the Commonwealth. In that time, the Lottery has turned over more than $4 billion for Virginia’s public schools. The latest annual profits of $455 million currently represent about 6 percent of state funding for public education in Virginia. In 20 years, the Lottery has sold more than $20 billion in tickets, awarded more than $1 billion in retailer commissions and paid more than $10.9 billion in prizes to players. 

Please play responsibly.