Pasquale and Lynda Romano used to dream of buying diamonds, furs and fancy cars. Now that they've won $3.4 million in the D.C. Lottery he still works at the same job, she still snips coupons for grocery shopping and the family still lives in the same house in Herndon.
"Our son thinks he's rich because he gets a dollar instead of a quarter from the tooth fairy," Lynda Romano said at a news conference and luncheon yesterday celebrating the third anniversary of the D.C. Lottery.
"And where would I wear a mink coat if I bought one? To pick up the kids from school?" asked the mother of two, a boy, 6, and a girl, 5.
"When you don't win, you imagine what you would do if you won a million dollars," said Pasquale Romano. "When you win you . . . don't have to hurry because [the money] is there. You can take your time and plan.
"Maybe a Mercedes or something like that, or my own business is in the future," said Romano, a civilian electronics engineer for the Army.
But when the couple recently traded in their 1982 Toyota for a new car, they got not a Mercedes-Benz but a 1986 Nissan Stanza. Their other splurge: a 10-day trip to Hawaii.
In February, the couple won the largest D.C. Lottery jackpot after she picked the lucky numbers -- 13, 14, 29, 33, 34 -- and he plopped down the $1 for the ticket. It was the 10th time they had played the game.
They will receive their winnings in annual installments of $136,000 (after taxes) over 20 years. "I'm not rushing into spending it; $136,000 goes fast," said Pasquale Romano.
The couple arrived at the news conference modestly dressed, she wearing a raspberry cotton-blend suit and gray shoes, he dressed in a beige corduroy jacket, dark brown pants and tan mesh shoes.
After their windfall, neither rushed out to buy new clothes although she admitted her suit was purchased for their first news conference, held shortly after they received their first check.
But unsure of how to dress to meet the press, "I decided to wear some pants I already had," she explained. She wore the suit yesterday.
They didn't get letters from strangers begging for donations, but they "got advice from everywhere, from everybody," said Lynda Romano.
"Our mail increased. Local financial planners sent us lots of information."
With the help of a financial consultant they found through a friend, they've decided to first focus on buying real estate and starting a savings plan for the children.
The changes in life have been more mental than physical.
"There's no pressure," Pasquale Romano said of his job. "If I want to quit tomorrow, I can."
Why did Lynda and Pasquale Romano win the biggest D.C. Lottery to date?
"We've thought about it," she said. "I don't know. But it took both of us to get the winning ticket. Maybe that means something."
Also Pasquale Romano is a dreamer.
"Yes, I've always dreamed," he said. The other reason, he believes, is that "internally, I said I would donate part of the money to the poor. I did donate $5,000 to my church to help the poor and I will continue to donate. It's my church first and my family second. I think that's why I won."
Meanwhile, he still buys lottery tickets and continues to dream. He bought 10 tickets on his way to yesterday's luncheon.