The first time lady luck smiled on Joe Denette, he won a boatload of money.
The second time, the prize was even more amazing.
He and his wife, Meagan, became the parents of two babies, delivered during separate births, 100 days apart.
One was the result of planned medical intervention. The other came as a complete surprise.
"Both are 100 percent genetically our children," the mother said, adding: "It's a cool story."
It's made even more interesting by the fact that Joe's life had already changed dramatically in 2009. That's when he won $75.6 million in the Virginia Lottery.
Then, with Meagan by his side, he wanted a family—something he hadn't been ready for in his younger, wilder days.
When babies came at a rate neither could have imagined, his life was transformed even more.
"I guess you could say he's lucky and won again," she said.
'I want it now'
Joe was a laid-off construction worker, living in Spotsylvania County's Partlow area with his mother, when he splurged on 23 lottery tickets for the Mega Millions game in May 2009.
He was one of three winners to split a $225 million jackpot.
He could have spread the payments over 20 years, but worried the financially strapped government might tap into his win nings.
When it came to his money, he said: "I want it now." After taxes at payoff time and again the follow ing April 15, Joe got about $29 million, free and clear.
Joe had been married in his 20s but never had kids. He had a need for speed and was too wild to settle down—or stay in one place too long.
"Moss doesn't grow on a rolling stone," he said.
He was 47 when he won the lottery and decided he was ready for children.
He wanted to share his life with someone he al ready knew—not a woman who might be looking for a sugar daddy.
He'd known Meagan for several years, and when he saw her alone at a Fourth of July party, he gave her a call.
"I knew Meagan's values and everything like that," he said. "A lot of people are just looking for the money, and that's all."
Like Joe, she had lived from paycheck to paycheck and had to borrow money to make her car payment.
When they started dating, she was a single mother of two boys, living with her parents. He asked if she ever thought about more kids. He promised he'd take care of her the rest of her life.
Joe and Meagan married in November 2009. To this day, she makes it clear that he's the one who got the big check, not both of them.
She insisted on a prenuptial agreement—even though he didn't want one. It said she'd get a cash settlement and the house they were living in, if they were to divorce after a certain time.
"I never wanted him to think I was with him for the money," she said. "I wanted him to know I loved him for him."
The couple—he's 51 and she's 37—lived in two subdi visions before they bought a more private home, on 17 acres, in Stafford County.
They're enjoying their newfound wealth.
He said it's nice not having to worry about getting up and going to work every day—or being stuck in traffic on Interstate 95.
He built an extra-large garage to hold his "sweet toys"—Mustangs and four– wheelers, golf carts and pick ups and a luxurious recre ational vehicle the family stays in when he goes to his beloved races.
Joe is part-owner of a NASCAR truck team, NTS Motorsports. In the pit area at race time, he rubs elbows with guys he used to watch on TV, like Kyle Bush.
Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday drive his team's Chevy Silverados.
Meagan collects oil paint ings of the icon she's always adored: Mickey Mouse. She has a whole Disney series by Thomas Kinkade.
She happily shows off the spacious in-ground pool out back that's so big, the pool company is sending two crews to open it for the season. It has a diving board, slide and areas where adults tan and kiddies splash.
The Denettes seem to be managing their money better than many lottery winners, who end up divorced, desti tute or worse. A Texas man committed suicide less than two years after he won $31 million, as his spending and lending spiraled out of con trol.
Joe paid off the houses of Meagan's parents and his mother. He also bought his mom a car and pays her bills. And, he set up two of Meagan's brothers in busi ness—with a children's gym and a car dealership.
He put his money into investments and annuities, then set up a spending plan with a financial counselor.
"We're on a budget our selves," he said, grinning. "If you sit there and constantly spend and don't have any money coming in, you're gonna be broke."
Plus, the two haven't for gotten their blue-collar roots. He painted all the bedrooms in their home, which is roomy and has wonderfully high ceilings and hardwood floors, but is hardly a McMansion.
She shops for the best prices online and stocks up during sales. To prove her point, she goes to the dining room, where 19 cases of diapers are stacked in the corner.
The Denettes have been featured in People magazine and on several TV programs about how lottery winners handle their money.
Meagan told one celebrity interviewer that she still uses coupons, especially for things like baby formula.
Barbara Walters laughed and asked why in the world she would do that.
"Because that's the way I was raised," Meagan said.
'Just hire somebody'
Meagan has two children from previous relationships. Hunter is 13, and Joe adopted him. Aidan, who's 9, lives in Japan with his father and spends summers with the Denettes.
Soon after their marriage, the newlyweds started their quest to conceive, but needed assistance.
She took fertility shots, then had four in-vitro fertil ization treatments before she got pregnant.
It was a rough nine months. She spent a lot of time sick and on bed rest.
Soon after Bentley Austin was born on Feb. 25, 2011, the parents started talking about a sibling for their new son.
Meagan's doctor told her her body couldn't handle another pregnancy. She had a lot of scar tissue from the three cesarean sections.
"Why don't you just hire somebody?" the doctor sug gested. "It's not like you can't afford it."
The Denettes contacted an agency in California, which located a "gestational carrier" in Richmond. The couple paid the woman $25,000 for what Meagan described as "use of her oven."
"Just her uterus, that's all we needed," she said.
Doctors combined Mea gan's egg and Joe's sperm, and implanted them in the carrier.
It was a good thing the match took, Meagan said, because she had only one viable egg at the time.
She'd had five miscarriages in the past, and she learned she might be going into early menopause as a result of the fertility treatments.
"They told me not to worry about birth control," she said.
'It was a total shocker'
The Denettes were on vacation at the Outer Banks with their extended families and their gestational carrier, who was five months preg nant. She was carrying a girl, and Joe and Meagan were thrilled.
Meagan had missed two cycles and thought she'd better take a pregnancy test. She didn't think for a minute that she was pregnant; she just wanted to rule it out.
When she saw the lines, confirming that she was with child, she couldn't believe it.
"It was a total shocker," she said.
The couple was nervous and scared, worried what the pregnancy might hold. There was also the issue of how they'd cope with three babies born in just over two years.
Meagan was five months pregnant herself when she and Joe went to the hospital to welcome Brooklyn Paige, who was born Dec. 4, 2012.
Meagan was seeing a doc tor every few days, because she was a high-risk patient, and getting weekly shots to prevent a miscarriage.
Several times after Brook lyn's birth, the doctor asked Meagan when she was going to hire some help at home.
Meagan finally conceded and hired Caitlin Dodd to be the children's nanny.
Meagan and Caitlin went way back. Meagan was 12 when she started baby-sit ting Caitlin, who was a chubby six-month-old and clearly Daddy's girl.
Caitlin joined the family when Brooklyn was one month old.
"I was six months preg nant, taking care of a new born who's eating every two hours, with a kid inside me who wouldn't stop kicking and two kids at home," Meagan said. "I just needed hands-on help."
She gave birth to Hudson Kane on March 14. His middle name is a nod to one of Joe's favorite NASCAR drivers, Kasey Kahne.
Even with everything going on at the time, Meagan's fourth pregnancy was rela tively easy compared to the previous one.
Joe clearly is comfortable with feeding and diapering the three babies. He loves being a pal to Bentley and can't wait to take him fishing, and spends equal time cooing to Brooklyn and Hudson.
Meagan said she feels the same bond with the boys she carried as the baby girl that another woman delivered.
"I guess I wasn't made to have girls," she said. "We had to send out for that."
'This one's a good one'
Hunter, the oldest child, laughs at the way the size of the family exploded in such a short time.
"I like it," he said.
He's the first to say his parents don't spoil him, even though they can afford to. In fact, they "say no a lot" when he asks for things.
He has the same electronic devices as most other kids— but with rules. Recently, after he brought home a C on his report card, Hunter lost the use of his phone.
There's no doubt that money changed Hunter's life, too, but even at 13, he can see benefits beyond Disney cruises and beach vacations.
"I was happy that I had a dad I could keep," Hunter said. "I've had three dads, and this one's a good one."
Joe and Meagan agreed, hands down, that their family changed their lives more than winning the lottery ever could.
"Money can be here today and gone tomorrow," Joe said. "But your family is here all the time."
Still, Meagan admits it's awfully nice not having to worry about everyday ex penses, like where your next box of diapers is coming from. She's got 19 cases, stacked in the dining room.
Thanks to hearsetrax for the tip.