West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave introduced West Virginia's newest millionaires at a press conference at W.Va. Lottery Headquarters this week.
Michael Shaver and Ronald Simmons, both Vietnam war veterans from Weston, are sharing the $14 million in winnings from matching five numbers, seven times with the PowerPlay option from last Wednesday's Powerball drawing.
"The $2 Powerball game has provided us with a unique opportunity to create even more millionaires in the state," Musgrave said Monday. "This win helps to illustrate the value of the PowerPlay option and we could not be happier for our winners."
The two played the same numbers seven times and matched all five white balls, missing only the Powerball number each time. They chose the PowerPlay option so the $1 million prize on each occurrence was automatically doubled to $2 million, thus giving them a total prize amount of $14 million.
They bought the winning tickets at the Prima 7-Eleven #5706 on 3rd Street in Weston and played the specific numbers based on birth dates of loved ones. The winning numbers were 01-04-11-23-26 with a Powerball of 14. Shaver and Simmons missed the Powerball number in each of their plays or they would have won a jackpot of $40 million. The store where the ticket was purchased will receive a $100,000 selling bonus.
"We have been friends since grade school and we both have children named after each other," Shaver said. "We have played the lottery every week for 25 years and have always played with different birthday combinations of our children - and we always play the PowerPlay option. I started doing that because an old friend named Briar Spivey from Huntington once told me to always box your numbers and play the same ones consistently so when the stars do align, you can win a big amount. It worked!"
This is the first Match 5 Powerball prize winning ticket sold in West Virginia since the introduction of the revamped $2 Powerball game in January. This is also the highest prize amount won in West Virginia since Martinsburg's Randy Smith won a $79 million Powerball jackpot in August 2010.
The ticket was the only one in the country that matched five numbers and used the PowerPlay option for Wednesday night's drawing. Four other players matched five numbers from that drawing and those $1 million winners were sold in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois and Texas.
The lifelong friends also so they will be responsible with their winnings and use some of it to help their fellow veterans.
"We are going to help our family, our kids and grandkids and help some veterans," Shaver said. "Veterans benefits are something we are both very passionate about, and we plan to advocate for protecting veterans benefits. We both want to thank the VA hospitals in Pittsburgh and Clarksburg and the Veterans Center in Morgantown and all the people associated with them, because we would not be here without them and have this. We will use some of this to help our fellow vets."
Shaver and Simmons are the 31st and 32nd persons, respectively, in the West Virginia Lottery's 26-year history to win a prize of $1 million or more. The last million-dollar winner was John Wiles of Tunnelton who claimed a $1 million prize from MegaMillions in January.
Since the West Virginia Lottery was created in 1986, more than $2.2 Billion has been awarded in prizes from traditional lottery games.