It is no surprise that local retired couple, Loren and Donna Hafer, had a full voicemail box this weekend since it was announced on Friday, May 25 that they won the $11 million Washington Lotto jackpot. They purchased the winning ticket at Chewelah’s Safeway for the May 23 drawing.
Loren Hafer, 84, and Donna Hafer, 74, live in Chewelah on Farm to Market Road. They have six children, 10 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
“The first person we told about our big win was our son,” Donna said. “He thought I was kidding and checked the numbers himself!”
When asked what they plan to do with their money, Loren said, “Find the best pickup truck in town!”
The prize tied with the highest jackpot since the game was restructured in 2006. According to KREM 2 News, the jackpot had been growing for the past six months since someone claimed $2.8 million last November.
“We started playing Lotto when the jackpot got high,” Donna said. “We had never won anything before in our lives!”
Lotto winners have the option of receiving their winnings as a 50 percent cash sum or in 25 annual payments.
For the $11 million jackpot, the lump sum would be $5.5 million, or $4,125,000 after taxes. Taking the annual payments would mean $440,000 a year, or $330,000 after taxes.
Furthermore, the Chewelah Safeway will receive a retail-selling bonus of $110,000.
However, Safeway manager Rick Dubigk said the money will go to corporate division sales and not directly to the store.
Donna said they are disappointed that none of the money will go toward their employees.
The Hafers claimed their check in Spokane on Thursday, May 27, but the news that the winning ticket was purchased in Chewelah spread quickly throughout the community before their names were announced to the public.
Many people were relieved to find out the winners are local and were not just visitors making a quick stop in town as they traveled through on Highway 395.
Loren is retired from Lynden Transport and Donna is a retired casino employee.
“We want to thank everyone in town for all the kind words and nice phone calls,” Donna Hafer said.
The Washington Lotto resets at $1 million and continues to increase until there is a winner. The next jackpot is set at $1.2 million for the May 30 drawing.
The winning jackpot numbers for May 23 were 9-14-17-27-35-43.