Rio Rancho resident Doug Barnard was about to get busy on his day off when he took a moment to check New Mexico Lottery winners online and noticed his numbers seemed to match those drawn for a $7.6 million, multi-state Hot Lotto jackpot.
“I thought I better just check my tickets before I got started on my chores,” said Barnard, who was described by New Mexico Lottery spokeswoman Linda Hamlin as half of a “lovely, very practical, very laid back” couple.
“I saw that the winning numbers looked like the numbers on my ticket, and I thought at first, ‘That can’t be right,'” Barnard, the director of Radiology Associates in Albuquerque, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
He checked again – the numbers were 2, 4, 29, 38, 41 and the “Hot Ball” of 7 – and realized he did have the winning ticket in the Saturday drawing. The practical Mr. Barnard thought, “OK, what do I do now?” He sent a text message to his wife, Roberta, that read, “Call me. Big news.”
Doug and Roberta Barnard beat odds of 1 in 29 million to win the jackpot. Doug began playing Hot Lotto just two weeks ago.
Doug told Roberta the big news about 8 a.m., and by the time they met with lottery officials about 11 a.m., they had already contacted a financial adviser.
So how do they plan on spending their winnings?
First, they will pay off their mortgage, then buy a new car and invest the rest, the couple said. Barnard said both he and his wife probably will keep their jobs for now. She works in the registrar’s office at Cleveland High School.
“We told each other we’re not going to make big decisions because we’re not in the right frame of mind,” he said. “We’re going to try to be smart about things.”
The second big surprise of what Doug described as a “very strange, very unexpected day” came when they learned the $7.6 million winning amount was the after-taxes sum.
“They had already assumed that after taxes, they’d have about $3.7 (million) left, so when they found out that they were going to receive the whole $7.6 million, Mrs. Barnard audibly gasped,” Hamlin said.
“It was fun to see, not only because of how excited they already were, but how much more excited they became when they got their second big surprise of the morning,” Hamlin said.
The Barnards, the parents of three children of high school and college ages, bought their quick-pick ticket at Brewer Oil Sandia Shell No. 100 at 7801 Carr Way in Rio Rancho.
Hot Lotto is played in 16 state lotteries, with jackpots starting at $1 million. This is the New Mexico Lottery’s sixth and largest Hot Lotto jackpot.
Doug, who was born and raised in New Mexico, met Roberta, his future wife, when they both attended Cibola High School.
Describing themselves as “pretty regular people, definitely not comfortable in the spotlight,” Doug said he and Roberta married at 20, and are looking forward to celebrating their 25th anniversary in December.
“I usually just get some flowers and we go to dinner, but I guess my budget for an anniversary gift just went way up,” Barnard said.