Joe Denette of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, is what you might call a die-hard racing fan. In fact, not even winning a Mega Millions jackpot valued at $75.6 million could keep him from a good NASCAR race.
On Friday, May 1, Mr. Denette matched all six numbers in the Mega Millions drawing. The next morning, he checked the winning numbers and realized he had won. One problem, though – he also had tickets to that evening’s NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway. What did he do? He gave the winning Mega Millions ticket to his mother for safekeeping while he enjoyed the race!
“She asked me where I was going and I said ‘the race!’” he told Lottery officials. “I won four race tickets from a radio station for answering NASCAR trivia questions.”
On May 12, he returned to the racetrack to receive his check from Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto. Rather than take the full jackpot amount over 26 years, Mr. Denette chose to take the cash option of $47.8 million.
He was one of three ticket-holders nationwide to win and split the $227 million Mega Millions jackpot. The winning numbers were 9-16-24-40-43 and the Mega Ball number was 35. He used the Easy Pick function, in which the computer randomly selected the numbers on his ticket.
“The computer did it,” he told Lottery officials. “I used to hate computers. Not anymore.”
Mr. Denette has been unemployed since January, when he was laid off from his job with a home building company.
He bought the ticket at Joyful Convenience Market, located at 5409 Mudd Tavern Road in Woodford. The store receives a $50,000 retailer bonus from the Virginia Lottery for selling the jackpot-winning ticket.
“This is the third-largest prize ever awarded by the Virginia Lottery and the fourth Mega Millions jackpot won in the Commonwealth,” said Ms. Otto. “In the time it took for the jackpot to grow to this level, from March 13 to the May 1 drawing, Mega Millions sales raised $12.5 million in profits for Virginia’s public schools.”
They are not the only winners. Virginia Lottery retailers earned more than $1.4 million during the same time for selling Mega Millions tickets. The state tax withholding on Mr. Denette’s prize resulted in $1.9 million for Virginia coffers. Along with Mr. Denette, there were more than 100,000 winning tickets bought in Virginia for the May 1 Mega Millions drawing, ranging from $2 to $10,000.
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.
For more information, visit www.valottery.com. Please play responsibly.