RICHMOND, JAN. 7 -- Russell J. Swimley and his family had to drive 100 miles across Virginia today through a miserable combination of rain and snow. But they had reason enough to make the trip: claiming a $22.2 million lottery jackpot.
The retired used car dealer from Brucetown, near Winchester in Frederick County, found out Saturday -- while celebrating his 75th birthday -- that he had picked the right combination of numbers to win the largest prize ever awarded by the Virginia Lottery. The jackpot also was bigger than the record prizes for lotteries in Maryland and the District.
Sharing the prize will be Swimley's only child, Fairfax City secretary Priscilla A. Stultz, 43. Swimley had long promised that if he ever took home the Big One after years of buying lottery tickets with minimal success, he would split the prize with her.
"After playing the lottery for 15 years, I had kind of given up," he said.
But father and daughter together went down Interstate 95 this morning, meeting with lottery officials at Richmond headquarters, then facing the television lights for the ritual pose with the oversized check and the usual what-will-you-do-with-the-money questions.
Turns out they plan to do pretty much what they've been doing.
Swimley, a widower, said he had no particular plans for the money. He said he's always been comfortable in retirement, likes to fish, and definitely plans to continue that. Stultz, whose husband is a computer consultant, said she enjoys her job working part time at a real estate company and has no plans to quit. She said the money will help send their four children to college and pay for a new car.
Their plans were unlike those of James Shaffer, of Loudoun County, previously Virginia's largest individual winner, who said the first thing he planned to do after winning $16 million in November was to quit his job as a telephone repairman.
So content with life is Swimley that he said he sees no reason to trade in his '82 Mercury, which with only 50,000 miles on the odometer is still running fine. He said he plans to give some of his money to favorite charities.
The chances of winning the Virginia Lottery are one in 7 million. Swimley estimated that over the years he has spent $5,000 playing the lotteries in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, coming close but never winning big before. He started buying 20 tickets a week when Virginia started its lottery game a year ago.
Swimley said his winning number in Saturday's drawing (01-06-16-19-34-40) was based on his birth date and his age. He was born on Jan. 6, 1916, and 34 and 40 add up to 74, which is how old he was until he turned 75 on Sunday.
Stultz and several other family members were with him for a birthday celebration at his home when he saw the drawing on television and realized he had the winning ticket. "I didn't even sleep the first night," Swimley said. "I did last night, though."
Virginia's largest award previously was a $20.7 million jackpot last July, which was split among three winners. In Maryland, a $14.8 million record jackpot in 1989 also was split among several winners.
The largest jackpot in a District lottery game was a $3.4 million winner of the Lucky Lotto game in 1985. The District also participates in Lotto America, in which an Army sergeant from Alexandria won $16 million in 1989.
Swimley's ticket was purchased at a Quick Stop convenience store off I-81 in Winchester.
Swimley and Stultz got their first payment today of $846,855 -- that's $1,114,283, minus state and federal taxes -- and will receive $845,120 payments annually for 19 years.