Former Minnesota lottery winners say winning jackpot doesn't have to change you

As people across the country check their Mega Millions lottery tickets for the $1.6 billion jackpot, a Minnesota couple is opening up about how their big jackpot win changed their lives four years ago.

Dog training and competing was always Rhonda Meath’s passion. Now, she does not have to work to pay for it.

Since winning the lottery in 2014, Rhonda and her husband Joe bought a gorgeous home along the St. Croix River. Joe started collecting classic cars and Rhonda turned her love of German Shepherds into a philanthropic mission. She has donated several trained canines to local law enforcement and raised money for shepherd rescues. She said she never imagined her life this way.

“I knew I would always have dogs just never knew I’d have this many,” said Rhonda.

As the Minnesota couple watches the historic drawing Tuesday night, they have some advice for the winners.

“I would wait a couple days,” said Rhonda. “Surround yourself with a good team and then come forward.”

She says one of the biggest shocks was the amount of strangers who reached out and even dropped in unannounced.

“You really do think twice about security and who you surround yourself with,” said Rhonda. 

While their $11.7 million winning jackpot is only a fraction of the 1.6 billion, they say a lottery win does not have to change you.

“I feel the same,” she said. “We both feel the same. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I live here.”