Good news trickled in throughout the month at the Virginia Lottery. We now know all five New Year’s Millionaire Raffle winners.
Lottery officials released the name of the fifth and final winner on Jan. 18.
Tickets were on sale from Nov. 1 until a customer bought the last of 625,000 tickets at 9:23 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 29.
Keep this in mind when you play
A few of the Millionaire Raffle winners shared some important lessons when they talked with the marketing team at the Virginia Lottery:
- Jennifer Wanamaker bought Millionaire Raffle tickets as stocking stuffers for her family and her daughter Caitlin’s stocking held a winning ticket. Caitlin is old enough to be in college. That’s an important distinction because Virginia Lottery gifts should only go to adults. The lottery, PlayVirginia and national campaigns stress the importance of responsible gifting.
- Solomon Sebehat doesn’t count on a lotto win to meet his financial needs: “I just play for fun,” he said. That’s the right approach. Never risk more than you can lose at casinos, sportsbooks or with lottery purchases. Problem Gambling Awareness Month takes place in March but its lessons are important year-round. Please use the lottery’s support resources if you need help.
- Daniel Zarow kept track of his raffle ticket even if he didn’t check the raffle numbers right away. In Virginia, winners have 180 days to claim a lotto win. The 180-day deadline applies when a scratch game comes to an end as well. Prizes go unclaimed more often than they should. Since 1988, the Virginia Lottery transferred more than $320 million in unclaimed winnings to a fund for school construction, technology upgrades, and renovations.
Millionaire raffle winners #116426 — The Wanamaker family
Jennifer Wanamaker bought some Virginia Lottery tickets as stocking stuffers for her family. The holiday of giving led to a very happy new year when the ticket in her daughter Caitlin’s stocking won one of the five $1 million top prizes.
“It’s surreal!” Caitlin told Virginia Lottery officials. “It’s a great start to the new year!”
Caitlin shared the win with her twin sister Alison and their parents Jennifer and Patrick.
“If one person wins, we all win,” Patrick said.
Mom bought winning ticket #116426 at the Stone Village Way Wegman’s supermarket in Midlothian.
Caitlin and Alison are both in college, studying nursing.
The Wanamakers live in Chesterfield County, which received nearly $35 million for K-12 education in Fiscal Year 2022.
Winner #201325 — Tim Allen
Buy a sandwich, win a million bucks.
That’s what happened to Tim Allen, who stopped at the Mills Grill & Grocery on Mount Cross Road in rural Danville. He added two Virginia’s New Year’s Millionaire Raffle tickets to his barbeque sandwich order.
“I couldn’t believe it!” he told Virginia Lottery officials. “It was the first time I’d bought a raffle ticket.”
Allen lives in Pittsylvania County, which received more than $8.1 million for K-12 education in the most recent budget year. Altogether, Virgina Lottery buys raised more than $779 million for schools. That’s about 10 percent of Virginia’s total K-12 school budget. As for Allen’s personal budget:
“It feels great!” he said as he collected his prize. “Pure excitement!”
Millionaire raffle winners #443201 — Michael and Mechelle Anderson
Mechelle and Michael Anderson of Henrico were Richmond City firefighters together, but not anymore. She retired; he’s still working.
That could change if they want it to now. A ticket that Mr. Anderson bought for Virginia’s New Year’s Millionaire Raffle was one of five $1 million winning tickets.
“I had to look at it like 500 times!” he told the lottery.
He bought ticket #443201 at the Staples Mill Road CVS in Henrico.
The Andersons live in Henrico County, which received more than $33.6 million in Lottery funds for K-12 education last fiscal year.
Winner #491685 — Solomon Sebehat
Solomon Sebehat has an approach that everyone should use when they place a bet or play a game of chance in Virginia.
“I just play for fun. If I get it, I get it,” he told the lottery.
Sebehat lives in Springfield and bought his raffle tickets at the Safeway supermarket on Old Keene Mill Road in Burke. When ticket #491685 emerged as the grand prize on New Year’s Day, “I was shocked,” Sebehat said. “I just never believe I am a lucky person to win this much in my life.”
He told the lottery he plans to use his winnings to pay off his mortgage, save for retirement and take care of his family.
Sebehat lives in Fairfax County, which received nearly $48.7 million in Lottery funds for K-12 education in the state’s most recent budget year.
Millionaire raffle winner #608075 — Daniel Zarow
The Virginia Lottery held the raffle drawing on New Year’s Day, but Daniel Zarow waited a few days before he checked his ticket.
“Usually we don’t win, so I didn’t bother checking,” he told Virginia Lottery officials.
As it turns out, good things still come to those who wait. Zarow bought ticket #608075 at the Safeway supermarket on Merchant Plaza in Woodbridge.
“I was in disbelief!” he said. “I asked my wife to check. She was just floored!”
The electrical engineer from Occoquan said at least some of the winnings will go toward his children’s college tuitions.
Lottery plays help all Virginia kids in the classroom as well. Zarow bought the winning ticket in Prince William County, which received more than $62.2 million in Lottery funds for K-12 education in the most recent budget year.
Neighbors can’t technically call the winners “millionaires” since taxes cut into the earnings.
Still, a raffle windfall is a great way to start off 2023.
Players may have to wait 10 more months for their next big raffle chance. But the Virginia’s New Year’s Millionaire Raffle odds of 1-in-125,000 are a little better, compared to the state’s other draw games:
- Powerball — 1-in-11,688,054 (to match five white balls but miss on the Powerball)
- Mega Millions — 1-in-12,607,306 (to match five white balls but miss on the Mega Ball)
- Bank a Million ($2 wager prize) — 1-in-3,838,380 (match six balls)
So, this seasonal shot at a million might be the best shot for players in Virginia.