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Fredericksburg area couple claim huge lottery jackpot

Dave and Nancy Honeywell had 217 million new reasons to celebrate Valentine’s Day yesterday.

The Stafford County couple claimed the winning $217 million Powerball jackpot ticket Thursday at the Richmond International Airport.

David Honeywell, 53, purchased the $10 ticket at the airport Sunday on his way to Denver on a business trip. It’s not something he usually does, but since the jackpot was big, he figured why not.

Honeywell matched all six numbers in the Feb. 6 Powerball drawing with the numbers 5-27-36-38-41 and Powerball number 12. He used EasyPick, which allows the computer to randomly select the numbers.

When he checked the winning numbers the next day, he saw that he had a few matching numbers thinking he won just a few dollars. Then he looked again and saw that all six numbers matched.

He immediately called his wife.

“I think my heart has started beating again.” he told Nancy. She thought he was sick.

“I thought he might be having a heart attack,” the 62-year-old said.

It took all the strength Dave had to keep his composure in Denver while leading meetings and not tell his multi-million dollar secret.

“I was so nervous I couldn’t concentrate,” he said. “My co-workers asked me what was bothering me. But I couldn’t say anything.”

Keeping secrets isn’t too hard for the couple, who both work for the Department of Defense.

Dave is a computer scientist and Nancy is a project manager. When they don’t telecommute, they drive 81 miles one-way to Fort Meade in Maryland to get to work.

They moved to the Fredericksburg area about 7 years ago from Spokane, Wash. They have two daughters, who both live out of state.

“We’re happy to win and it was a big surprise,” Nancy said. The couple opted to take the one-time cash option of $136.4 million before taxes instead of taking the full jackpot amount in annual payments for 30 years.

She plans on retiring right away and Dave will wait about a month or two to finalize some projects he’s been working on.

They’ve already decided on some of the things they are going to do with the money.

“A car for me,” Dave said, mentioning that his 13-year-old Dosge Neon with 170,000 miles will be replaced with an SUV.

Nancy said they will also build a large retirement home out west where all of their family can get together. They plan to move away from Fredericksburg after a year or so, they said.

“We have some good intentions to do with it, too,” Nancy said. “Like taking care of family and giving to charities.”

Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto said the Honeywells are the first Virginians to ever win the Powerball jackpot and it is the second largest prize awarded by the Virginia Lottery.

“The odds of winning this jackpot was 1 in 175 million,”she said. “In addition to this great prize, sales of Powerball tickets in Virginia for the 12 drawings leading up to Feb. 6 generated more than $4

million in profits for Virginia’s K-12 public schools.”

The Honeywells, who appropriately accepted their prize on Valentine’s Day, may also use this money to celebrate another milestone.

“We’re coming up on our 20th anniversary this summer,” Nancy said.

“And we’re still in love.”