Woman Wins $750 Million After Noticing Message on Lottery Machine, Says 'It Was a Sign'
The lottery, as the saying goes, is a tax on people who are bad at math.
Occasionally, however, some of us get a very big deduction and a large refund check, to boot. Count Becky Bell among those lucky folk.
According to KING-TV in Seattle, Bell — a 36-year Boeing employee who lives in Auburn, Washington — has been identified as the winner of the $754.6 million Powerball jackpot.
Bell purchased the ticket at a Fred Meyer store in her hometown on Feb. 5 and claimed the jackpot on Feb. 28.
She credits a sign from above — or from Boeing’s production line, at the very least — as the reason why she’s now quite a bit richer.
“Bell spends $20 on lottery tickets each week, and had already spent her money for the week, but said she ‘had to buy one more ticket’ after seeing a lottery sign at Fred Meyer,” KING reported.
“The sign showed the estimated $747 million jackpot, and it stood out to her as a reason to buy another ticket because just that week Boeing delivered its last 747 jumbo jet.”
“That’s when it hit me … I had to buy one more ticket,” Bell said, according to a media release from the Washington Lottery. “[I]t was a sign.”
The iconic 747 — you know, the big four-engined plane with the hump in the front — went out of production in January after entering service 53 years ago with launch customer Pan Am. Indeed, the first 10 747s initially served with Pan Am, Trans World Airlines and Eastern Air Lines, according to Planespotters.net.
None of those companies are in business anymore, and tens of thousands of people lost their jobs when they collapsed or were absorbed into other carriers. Furthermore, the plane’s production met a rather ignominious end, with the final example being delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air — hardly the jet-set image the bubble-topped jumbo represented back in the day. But at least 747 was lucky for one gal in Auburn, Washington!
“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,’” Bell said, according to the media release.
“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.”
The media release said that “[i]t was only when Bell checked the winning numbers on the WA Lottery app that she realized she had THE ticket.”
“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,” Bell said. “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.”
Actually, it’ll be more like $309 million, since she took the lump-sum option, which pays out considerably less money, but all at once. And, what do you know, that’s really close to $307 million, and Boeing’s first pressurized airliner was the Boeing 307 Stratoliner. It, too, also initially entered service with Pan Am before World War II.
Alright, look: Far be it from me to lecture people about the morality of gambling or to question God’s plan. Maybe this woman, who has toiled at America’s premier aviation firm for over three decades, was given a sign from On High to buy the ticket. Or maybe it’s just that all of Boeing’s jet models with the exception of one have begun and ended with the number 7 and this was a massive coincidence.
(The exception, for the curious: The rare Boeing 720 of the 1960s was really just a shortened and modified Boeing 707, but launch customer United Airlines didn’t want to be perceived as insulting the Douglas Corporation, since they were enthusiastic buyers of the rival Douglas DC-8 and purchasing a 707 variant could cause a rupture in corporate relations. However, the name Boeing 717 was already in use for an existing jet engine. Hence, a compromise was struck and the plane was christened the 720. You now know 1) how deep my aviation geekery goes and 2) how popular I am at parties.)
I’m no angel in this department, either. As a massive sports fan, I’m known to place a small wager every now and then — nothing major, mind you, but something that I can afford and which keeps me entertained. (If only I really could wager on commercial aviation, as the Washington Lottery seems to imply Becky Bell did, then I’d have it made.) God bless this woman, and I hope everything works out for her.
However, after all these feel-good stories, I want to call attention to this quote in the Washington Lottery media release, which nobody’s going to focus on: “I’ve never won more than $20 in my life,” Bell said about her experiences playing the lottery, “so you can imagine my shock when I realized what had just happened. I just broke down and cried.”
That’s the thing: Most people buying tickets at the convenience store counters live gambling lives of quiet desperation. At almost every counter in every 7-Eleven or Fred Meyer or wherever, there’s a little black box that sucks money out of your pockets and into the coffers of the government. There’s no skill involved, no rooting for your favorite team, nothing like that. It’s government-sponsored roulette. The difference is that, judging from the opulent environs of the MGM Grand vs. the state of our failing schools, casinos seem to spend your wasted money much more judiciously.
Gambling is a vice. I know this, even though (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) I occasionally dabble in it.
The important thing is that the state knows this, too, which is why it heavily regulates it — and why, up until very recently, doing it in any kind of organized fashion required doing it illegally, doing it in areas where the state didn’t have jurisdiction (ie, Native American reservations), or doing it in blighted areas where your wasted money was supposed to revitalize the local economy. (Atlantic City, for instance, which — at least last I visited — seems to have fared just as well with casino cash as our schools have with lottery dollars.)
And then there’s the one big exception: the lottery, the form of gambling the state practically begs you to engage in. Take a guess as to why.
Maybe the number 747 was a sign from above. (That said, there isn’t a Boeing 754.6, so I’d wager — pardon the pun — it wasn’t.) Or maybe it’s just that someone eventually had to win.
And for someone to eventually win, a whole crush of people had to lose — just like Becky Bell did so many times before she finally struck it rich. The odds are that you never will, but rest assured this woman will be thrown out like chum in the water to attract so many other people who don’t realize they’re not really just gambling, they’re paying taxes in a mildly entertaining way.
For those who struggle to resist the appeal of the lottery in spite of the astronomical odds against winning, contact the National Council on Problem Gambling or Gamblers Anonymous.
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