Just how lucky can some people get? Very lucky? Experts estimate you have one in 175 million chance to win the lottery. Winning alone is astronomically lucky. However, this winner did not just win the same draw once, but twice thanks to a mistake.
That person is outdoor enthusiast Virginia Fike, 44, of Berryville, Virginia, who claimed $2 million in June 2012 after it was found she owned two of the winning tickets.
Fike, who told members of the media she loves jackpot games and bets on them whenever she can afford to, said she never planned to buy tickets when she stepped into the OldeStone Truck Stop & Restaurant in Clear Brook, Virginia, for some errands. The urge to buy tickets just came to her out of the blue.
She said she initially planned to buy two tickets, one for Powerball and another for Mega Millions and fill them both with the same numbers when she realized she had mistakenly bought two Powerball tickets and filled them with the same numbers.
What were her numbers? 5-13-17-20-30. What were they based on?
“I picked numbers based on my parents’ anniversary and their ages at that time, divided by the year they were married,” Fike said. She did not bother getting a Mega Millions ticket anymore.
“I was like, ‘If I win, I win twice’…so I just went ahead and took the tickets,” Fike added.
Draw day came April 7 that year. The jackpot prize was $80 million for six out of six numbers. No one took home jackpot that day but 14 people matched the numbers five out of six, entitling them to $1 million each. Two of those numbers were from Virginia.
Fike was accompanying her mother in the hospital and was watching the TV when the announcement came about the winning tickets.
“I looked at my mom and said ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if it was us?’” she said.
It was only later when she went to have her tickets checked by a clerk at a convenience store that she discovered her numbers had matched the Powerball results. She was later awarded the symbolic check for $2 million at the same truck stop where she bought the winning tickets.
Under Virginia state lottery rules, winners split the jackpot, regardless of how many there are, but non-jackpot prizes from matching part of the winning sequence are not split and can be won many times…even from different tickets by the same owner.
Her $2 million would later become $1.4 million after taxes, but she is not complaining.
“Really it still just hasn’t sunk in. It feels good but it’s still just like right, you know somebody’s going to pinch me and I’m going to wake up and this’ll all be a dream,” she said in a statement.
“I must be dreaming,” Fike said in another press release, “I look forward to helping to take care of my parents and paying some bills.”
So, yes, Virginia Fike, there is a Santa Claus.
Aside from Fike, another person also holds the record of winning the Powerball twice, although not in the same day. Francis Stephenson, of Chester, South Carolina also won the Powerball twice. First in 2005 when lottery results showed he picked five out of six balls to win the $1 million prize and again two years later when he again picked five out of six to win $400,000.
Stephenson, who retired from working for a telephone cable manufacturing company a few months before his second win, still doesn’t seem to think much of it.
“I don’t change very much,” he said. “I have a lot of friends in Chester, and I like playing around with them…I hope one day I can get back out there and play,” he said, referring to golf.