A misplaced lottery ticket turned out to be the last-but-best Christmas gift for a Mount Airy couple, who came forward today to collect their share of a $7 million Lotto jackpot.
And, in the true spirit of Christmas, Brenda and Bruce Beaver will give part of their $3.5 million winnings to an old family friend, Robert Teter of Rockville, who is on a waiting list to receive a heart transplant and needs $125,000 to pay his medical costs.
The Beavers held one of two winning tickets in the $7 million drawing held Christmas Eve. The other winner was a North Carolina man who has decided to remain anonymous. After taxes, the annual pay-out comes to $126,875 for each household.
But the Beavers did not know of their good fortune immediately because Brenda Beaver had left her tickets at the beauty salon she owns and operates, Hair Impressions in Mount Airy.
"I thought I had lost the ticket, because Christmas Eve, my husband got his tickets out and looked at his and I'm looking for mine, and I said 'Oh no, I think I lost my tickets,' and I didn't think anything more of it," Brenda Beaver said in a telephone interview today.
Yesterday, however, she stopped at her salon and found her tickets in her office. She drove back home and was matching the tickets to the numbers printed in the newspaper when her husband called from Gaithersburg, where he works with a construction firm.
"I'm talking to my husband on the phone and I say, 'That's funny, I've got three here,' " Brenda Beaver said. "Then I say, 'Oh my God, I've won, this has got to be the wrong paper.' I couldn't talk to him, I just kept saying 'Be quiet,' then I couldn't talk any more."
While the Beavers are both working, the recession has been a source of concern for at least a year, since they borrowed "all the money we could" and Brenda Beaver bought her own shop, then expanded it.
Now that they've won, they plan to continue working, but welcome the unusual cushion of security the lottery money will provide.
Her husband played the lottery every week, but Brenda Beaver was an erratic player. On Christmas Eve, the only reason she purchased tickets was because an old friend, Morris "Jonesy" Jones, stopped by her shop and asked if she wanted any.
"I had $20 in my pocket and I gave it to him," she said. Jones bought the tickets at a Mount Airy convenience store in Carroll County, a former High's that recently converted to a 7-Eleven, she said.
As it happened, the Beavers talked Christmas about how they might spend lottery winnings. She said she would help out her family. He again mentioned he would contribute to the fund set up for Teter. At the time, they thought it was a strictly hypothetical conversation.
"It was a very nice Christmas," Brenda Beaver said.