Winner of $754M Powerball jackpot identified as Boeing employee in Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A longtime Boeing employee in Washington state stepped forward to claim last month’s $754 million Powerball jackpot, the fifth-largest in U.S. history and the ninth-largest U.S. prize overall.

>> Read more trending news

Becky Bell, of Auburn, was the winner in the Feb. 6 drawing. She picked the winning numbers of 5, 11, 22, 23, 69 and the Powerball was 7. It was a 2x Power Play.

“I’ve never won more than $20 in my life,” Bell said in a statement to Washington’s Lottery officials on Friday. “So you can imagine my shock when I realized what had just happened. I just broke down and cried.”

Bell was shopping at a Fred Meyer grocery store with her daughter in Auburn on Feb. 5 when she bought the ticket, KIRO-TV reported.

At the time, the estimated jackpot was at $747 million. Bell, who has worked as a chain supply analyst at Boeing for 36 years, recalled that the company had just delivered its last 747 jumbo jet.

“That’s when it hit me,” Bell told Washington Lottery officials in a news release. “I had to buy one more ticket.”

“She worked at Boeing, they had just rolled the last 747 off the line and just felt like there was an omen,” Joshua Johnston, a spokesperson for Washington’s Lottery, told KIRO. “She bought one more ticket and it just happened to be the big winner.”

After the numbers were drawn, the final jackpot was calculated at $754,550,826, lottery officials said. Initially, Bell did not realize that she had the winning ticket.

“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 told lottery officials. “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.”

She won much more but could not believe her good fortune. Bell said she woke up her daughter to double-check the numbers, then confirmed it again by waking up her son. Still not convinced, Bell called her other daughter to check the numbers and then texted a photograph of the winning ticket to her mother and sisters before calling them, lottery officials said in the news release.

“The funny thing was my mom misheard me when I told her how much I won,” Bell said in a statement. “She said ‘7 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 was planning to retire in June but now has decided to stop working at the end of March, KIRO reported. She plans to give some of her winnings to her children and sisters and plans to invest the remainder, according to the television station.

“This is generational wealth,” Johnston told KIRO. “This means she’s set for life, her kids are set for life, and their kids are set for life.”

There had only been one Powerball winner from Washington state before Bell, and that person also was from Auburn, KIRO reported. The winner’s husband worked at the same Boeing warehouse as Bell, according to the television station.

The Fred Meyer store that sold the winning ticket will receive a $50,000 bonus, lottery officials said.

When Bell visited lottery headquarters in Olympia to claim her prize, officials validated her ticket and told her that the same ticket also yielded an $8 winner.

“I told you it was a sign,” Bell joked to lottery officials.