The newest Powerball lottery jackpot winner said that she rarely wins contests of any kind and plays the lottery only on special occasions — and she had never purchased a Powerball ticket before. But Thanksgiving day was indeed a special occasion, so when the Auburn, Washington, mom went to a grocery store outside of Seattle to pick up some last minute ingredients, she also sprung for a pair of Powerball tickets.
Three days later, Lisa Quam learned that she was, in fact, a Powerball jackpot winner — on her first try.
The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 175.2 million to one. Quam becomes just the ninth Powerball winner in 97 drawings this year. That’s only nine jackpot winning combinations out or more than 1.6 billion tickets sold.
Quam said that after buying some spices, she took the groceries home, and stuck the Powerball tickets to her refrigerator door. She checked the winning numbers on Sunday.
“I yelled to my family, ‘Get up here!’ They all thought I was mad and angry about something,” Quam said, when she showed up at Washington lottery headquarters to claim her prize on Thursday. “My daughter asked, ‘Is this an emergency?’ and I said, ‘Yes!'”
Quam and her husband, Everett, who accompanied her as they picked up their ceremonial, oversize check for $90 million, say that they will both now quit their jobs. Both work for the Washington-based aviation manufacturing firm Boeing. Lisa Quam has been employed there for 25 years. Her husband has worked as a Boeing mechanic for 16 years.
“I sent out an email to my co-workers and friends at work this morning and told them what a pleasure it was to work with them and to check the news today, and they’ll come to an understanding of why I am writing this note,” Quam said, laughing, at press conference held at lottery headquarters.
The next step is to pay off their children’s student loans, they said, and take care of other family needs.
She said she wasn’t planning to purchase Powerball tickets on Thanksgiving, or ever, but a friendly grocery clerk encouraged her to try her luck.
“I said, ‘Sure!’ I had never purchased a Powerball ticket before,” said Quam.
Her winning ticket was one of 12,785,563 Powerball tickets purchased nationwide for the Saturday, November 29 drawing.
Quam became the first Powerball jackpot winner in Washington state history, but she said she has still not decided whether to take her full $90 million winnings, which would mean collecting the prize over 30 annual payments, or to take a single payment of $56.8 million.