Long-time Boeing employee bought ticket when jackpot estimate hit $747 million in honor of company’s delivery of last 747 airplane earlier that week; winning ticket also had a second set of numbers that won her an additional prize
Olympia, Wash. (March 3, 2023) – 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 millionjackpot 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.
Unclaimed $1 million Prize from November
Director Glasper also added, “There’s also another Washington millionaire out there somewhere. There is a $1 million unclaimed Powerball prize from a ticket purchased at a Maverik store in Airway Heights, near Spokane, back in November, and we’d really like to find that winner, too. So please check your piles of mail, check your couch cushions, check your glove box, and check wherever you might have stashed a ticket, because we’d like to award you your prize, too!”
The full list of unclaimed prizes can be found here.
Winning players have 180 days from the drawing date to claim their prize. By law, the prizes that aren’t claimed are placed into a reserve account. Each June, the surplus in the reserve account is transferred to the Washington Opportunity Pathways Account (WOPA), which supports education in Washington State. WOPA helps college students across the state achieve their dreams and supports early childhood education programs. More information on the program can be found here.
Washington’s Lottery has regional offices located in Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Spokane, and Yakima, which are open to the public to claim prizes Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Due to the amount of this win, Washington’s Lottery required Bell to make a safe and secure in-person claim at Lottery Headquarters in Olympia.
Making a Difference in Washington State
Since 1982, Washington’s Lottery has generated more than $4.5 billion to support several important state programs, including providing much-needed funds for the Washington Opportunity Pathways Account (WOPA). In FY21, WOPA received $185.7 million from the Lottery, enough to pay college tuition for more than 18,000 Washington residents. It also provided approximately 25% of the annual budget for the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, which provides critical services to more than 15,000 children at 440 locations across Washington.
Washington’s Lottery Beneficiary Fact – April 2022
Washington’s Lottery is very proud to be a financial supporter of the state’s Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program (ECEAP). The $40 million annual investment the lottery makes in ECEAP has lasting effects. Children who participate in ECEAP are more likely to be kindergarten-ready than non-participants, and those who participate five or more hours per day are especially prepared in reading and math.* Children in state-funded pre-K programs like ECEAP see long-lasting positive effects, including increased grade progression, high school graduation and college enrollment.**
About Washington’s Lottery: The state’s Lottery offers consumers several types of games, including Mega Millions, Powerball, Lotto, Hit 5, Match 4, Pick 3, Daily Keno and Scratch. For more information, visit www.walottery.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @walottery.
Keep it fun. Know your limit. Washington’s Lottery is an advocate for responsible gaming and collaborates with the Evergreen Council for Problem Gambling to provide resources for those in need. More information is available at www.walottery.com/Responsibility.
Dan Miller (Curator on behalf of Washington’s Lottery)
Xiamara Garza (Curator on behalf of Washington’s Lottery)
* Early Learning Feedback Report. https://erdc.wa.gov/data-dashboards/early-learning-feedback-report-0
** Boston Public Schools Department of Early Childhood. (n.d.). Boston universal pre-K. Retrieved June 9, 2021, from https://www.bpsearlylearning.org/boston-upk