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It could happen to you? A former Florida man won HGTV Dream Home and $13,000 lottery prize

Robert O'Neill of Brandon, Florida, won 2007 HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado. The retired postmaster from Brandon later sold it.

Jacksonville Florida Times-Union
  • David Rennie of Shelton, Connecticut, won 2016 HGTV Dream Home on Merritt Island, Florida. Rennie took the cash option.
  • Cheryl Smith of Lakeland, Florida, won 2009 HGTV Dream Home in Sonoma, California.
  • John Groszkiewicz of Erie County, Pennsylvania, won 2003 HGTV Dream Home in Mexico Beach, Florida.
  • Belinda Brown of Kingston, Tennessee, won 1999 HGTV Dream Home in Rosemary Beach, Florida.

Winning an HGTV Dream Home is like hitting the lottery. The odds are very slim, and with luck, a winner is chosen from a drawing for a major prize.

At least one HGTV sweepstakes winner knows what it's like to win both.

As we wait to see who won the 2024 HGTV Dream Home on Anastasia Island, Florida, here's a look back at Robert O'Neill, a retired postmaster from Brandon who won $13,000 from the Florida Lottery shortly after retiring in 1999. Because in 2007, he won an even bigger prize: the HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado.

How long has HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes contests been around?

HGTV, the home and garden television network, started its HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes contest in 1997. The network's HGTV Smart Home sweepstakes contest started in 2008.

Did someone win an HGTV Dream Home and the lottery?

According to a , Robert O'Neill, a postmaster from Brandon, Florida, won $13,000 from the shortly after he retired in 1999. "That was nice," he said of the lottery prize, which, the reported, went toward bills and a cruise for he and his first wife, Melanie, who was suffering from cancer.

Eight years later, the story says, O'Neill won the keys to the ultimate dream home.

The in Kingsport, Tennessee, had interviewed O'Neill in 2007 when he won the HGTV Dream Home that year. The dream home in Winter Park, Colorado, included the fully furnished 4,400-square-foot lodge-style home, a 2007 GMC Acadia, a matching "HGTV Doggy Dream Home" and $250,000 in cash for a total prize value of $2.5 million. Features of the four-bedroom, five-bathroom home included a wet bar, a kids "bunk room," a loft, stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, rustic exposed beams, stone fireplaces, a hot tub and patio.

Though lightning seemed to strike twice for O'Neill, the retired postmaster from Florida had seen his share of tragedy: "In 1983, one of his sons died in an auto accident. He cared for his wife, Melanie, until her death of cancer in 2004 and nursed two other family members, who died in 2005 and 2006," according to a March 2007 story in the Columbus Dispatch. "So I needed a new life," O'Neill told the USA TODAY Network newspaper.

In fall 2006, the widower and Florida Lottery winner married his second wife, Lorie. The couple relocated to Johnson City, Tennessee, from Florida to be near O'Neill's son and his family.

On the day after St. Patrick's Day 2007, Robert O'Neill and his wife, Lorie, were at a Johnny Carino's restaurant in Tennessee to presumably celebrate a promotion for his son Robert O'Neill Jr. But instead, the "family dinner" quickly turned into a surprise celebration in front of an audience of 65 people, complete with guests from Robert and Lorie's wedding, news reports show.

According to the Kingsport Times-News, Joan Steffend, host of , came out of the restaurant kitchen holding a sign that said Robert O'Neill won $250,000. She was accompanied by cameras and a live TV crew to notify Robert O'Neill of his sweepstakes prize, . HGTV stars Clive Pearse and David Bromstad were part of the live HGTV Dream Home winner reveal, too.

O'Neill beat the odds of 41 million-to-1. In previous sweepstakes entries, the former postmaster from Florida told the Kingsport Times-News that he "bought the postage stamps and mailed in each of his multiple entries." But for the 2007 HGTV Dream Home giveaway, he actually entered up to 11 times online. "I never had any faith in online entries," he said in the story. "I figured the computer just swallowed them up and deleted them."

HGTV camera crews filmed Robert O'Neill's first visit to the Winter Park, Colorado, home, which is nestled 9,000 feet high in the wilderness of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

"It's very humbling to us," O'Neill told the Columbus Dispatch in 2007. "It's something that came out of nowhere."

Did Robert O'Neill, 2007 HGTV Dream Home and former lottery winner, keep the Winter Park, Colorado, dream home?

News reports show Robert O'Neill, the retired postmaster from Brandon, Florida, and a former Florida Lottery winner, put the 2007 HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado, up for sale shortly after winning the network's sweepstakes contest. Interested buyers popped up from across the country, Dennis Saffell, owner and broker of Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties, said in a . A pair of surgeons and their families from Denver eventually bought the dream home for about $2 million, the states: "We had a lot of people looking at it ... for its fame of being an HGTV home. And it ended up selling to someone who had no idea it was an HGTV home. They bought it because they liked it," Saffell had told .

The sale of the 2007 HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado, included $200,000 worth of furniture, the custom "HGTV Doggy Dream Home" worth $1,500, and membership to a $3 million private club with a two-lane bowling alley, Sky-Hi Daily News reported.

What happened to the 2007 HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado?

A May 16, 2024, check online shows the 2007 HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado, was . The home details for the state: "A Bridger's Cache luxury home opportunity (was) on the market! One of only 20 potential ski-in, ski-out properties at award winning Winter Park Resort. This gorgeous and timeless home was the HGTV Dream Home from 2007. ... Enjoy the peace and quiet nestled in 100 year old pines in this gated, private community with owner clubhouse.

"This home easily sleeps 14 and offers exceptional outdoor, as well as indoor living space. Family room on lower level has wet bar and room for games or sleeping. Bunk room is a fun cabin-y getaway for kids or adults. ... Main floor primary suite has stunning views of the Divide along with five piece bath and extra large walk in closet. There is a den/office across the hall which could easily be converted to more sleeping space if desired," the Zillow listing states. "Upper level hosts two large ensuite bedrooms and upper deck looking to the forest. Fully equipped kitchen with open concept where you can see the views while standing at kitchen sink or along the spacious bar top. Cherry cabinetry and Brazilian cherry flooring. Rustic exposed beams and the three stack stoned fireplaces will never go out of style. Hot tub and patio area are accessed off kitchen and/or primary ensuite bath. Brand new paint throughout, new roof and boiler within the last 18 months."

Who won 2024 HGTV Dream Home on Anastasia Island, Florida?

Currently, the search is on for the winner ofthe 2024 HGTV Dream Homein Florida. The network wrapped the2024 contest for the Anastasia Island home− a winner was likely picked from a drawing Feb. 29, 2024, aka Leap Day, with results pending until about May 15, 2024, according to contest rules. As of Tuesday, May 15, a winner had not been announced.

List of HGTV Dream Home winners. When did HGTV notify winners of HGTV Dream Home contests?

Here's a look back at when the HGTV network announced who won the HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes contest.dzٱ:Some dates were not available.

  • 2024 HGTV Dream Home on Anastasia Island, Florida: Winner TBD as of May 16, 2024
  • May 1, 2023:Marie Davis of Rock Hill, South Carolina, won the 2023 HGTV Dream Home in Morrison, Colorado.
  • April 21, 2022:Karey Wolstenholm of Overland Park, Kansas, won the 2022 HGTV Dream Home in Warren, Vermont.
  • April 27,2021:Jeff Yanes of Austin, Texas, won the 2021 HGTV Dream Home in Newport, Rhode Island.
  • April 15, 2020:Susan O'Gorman of Perry, Georgia, won the 2020 HGTV Dream Home on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
  • about March 21, 2019:Beverly Fulkerson of Osgood, Indiana, won the 2019 HGTV Dream Home in Whitefish, Montana.
  • April 2, 2018:Emily Muniz from Nashville, Tennessee, won the 2018 HGTV Dream Home in Gig Harbor, Washington
  • April 14, 2017:Anna Spangler of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, won the 2017 HGTV Dream Home on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
  • about March 30, 2016:David Rennie of Shelton, Connecticut, won the 2016HGTV Dream Home on Merritt Island, Florida
  • April 1, 2015:Kathy O'Dell of Huntsville, Alabama, won the 2015 HGTV Dream Home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
  • March 19, 2014:Laura Martin of Boise, Idaho, won the 2014 HGTV Dream Home in Lake Tahoe, California
  • March 15, 2013:Carole Simpson of Columbia, Tennessee, won the 2013 HGTV Dream Home in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • about March 17, 2012:Vicky Naggy of Pennsylvania won the 2012 HGTV Dream Home in Park City, Utah.
  • March 9, 2011:Eric Makstenieks of Hinsdale, Illinois, won the 2011 HGTV Dream Home in Stowe, Vermont.
  • April 30, 2010:Myra Lewis of New Orleans, Louisiana, won the 2010 HGTV Dream Home in Sandia Park, New Mexico.
  • about March 16, 2009:Cheryl Smith of Lakeland, Florida, won the 2009 HGTV Dream Home in Sonoma, California.
  • about March 18, 2008:Stephanie Dee of Solon, Iowa, won the 2008 HGTV Dream Home in Islamorada, Florida.
  • March 18, 2007:Robert O'Neill of Brandon, Florida, won the 2007 HGTV Dream Home in Winter Park, Colorado.
  • April 29, 2006:Donald P. Cook of Alum Creek, West Virginia, won the 2006 HGTV Dream Home in Lake Lure, North Carolina.
  • March 2,2005:Don Cruz of Chicago, Illinois, won the 2005 HGTV Dream Home in Tyler, Texas.
  • March 3, 2004:Kathi Nakao of Sacramento, California, won the 2004 HGTV Dream Home in St. Mary's, Georgia.
  • unknown 2003:John Groszkiewicz of Erie County, Pennsylvania, won the 2003 HGTV Dream Home in Mexico Beach, Florida.
  • April 11, 2002:Milton O'Bryant of Midland, Texas, won the 2002 HGTV Dream Home in Sherwood, Maryland.
  • unknown 2001:Kathy Hedrick of Gladstone, Missouri, won the 2001 HGTV Dream Home in Camden, Maine.
  • unknown 2000:Mary Barker of San Antonio, Texas, won the 2000 HGTV Dream Home in Nehalem, Oregon, according to.
  • unknown 1999:Belinda Brown of Kingston, Tennessee,won the 1999 HGTV Dream Home in Rosemary Beach, Florida.
  • unknown 1998:Tina Carlson of Thousand Oaks, California, won the 1998 HGTV Dream Home in Beaufort, South Carolina.
  • unknown 1997:Michele Rambo of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the very first winner of an HGTV Dream Home, the 1997 HGTV Dream Home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Sangalang is a lead digital producer for USA TODAY Network-Florida. Follow her onor Instagram at. Support local journalism..