Pella veteran wins $200,000 in a homebuyer giveaway contest

Photo by Krystal Fowler/CNHI NewsPictured left to right are Veterans United Home Loans Director of Communications Lauren Karr, Scott McDonald, Josephine McDonald, Cora McDonald (front), Amy Jo McDonald and Jerry Brennan, director of digital solutions at The McDonald family was presented with their $200,000 award Friday at their home in Pella.

One Pella family recently received a spectacular Christmas present.

Amy Jo McDonald, of Pella, found out in December that she was the winner of the Home for the Holidays Homebuyer Giveaway contest and would be getting $200,000 to help her family purchase a new home.

The contest is sponsored by Veterans United Home Loans and is hosted and promoted by McDonald said that she and her husband used during their last home purchase and she saw some information about the sweepstakes, so she entered, but never expected to win.

“I just clicked on the site one time and I saw the contest and just put my information in and won the sweepstakes,” said McDonald. “Shocking.”

The contest is open to veterans and current service members. McDonald is the third winner. According to Veterans United Home Loans Director of Communications Lauren Karr, the McDonalds are the first winners where both members of the couple are veterans.

“It’s been really rewarding getting to meet all of the winners and Amy is the first one west of New York,” said Karr.

McDonald and her husband, Scott, are both originally from Brocton, New York. McDonald served in the U.S. Army from 1998 to 2002 and then served in the National Guard from 2002 to 2005. She is currently a nurse at the VA hospital in Des Moines. Scott just recently took a new position with the VA hospital as well. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

The couple originally moved to Iowa for Scott’s work and have lived in Pella for a little more than six years. They have two daughters, Josephine, 14, and Cora, 9.

The McDonalds said they have already found a new home they are interested in and will be listing their current home soon. They plan to continue living in Pella.

“We love Pella,” said McDonald.

Jerry Brennan, Director of Digital Solutions at, said that Veterans United Home Loans came up with the idea for the contest and approached to partner with them for hosting and promotion about three years ago. The amount of the prize can vary each year. This is the first $200,000 prize that has been given out according Brennan and Karr.