Remember the $522 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot from last month? Well, it jumped a little further to an astronomical $543 million due to ticket sales and one lucky ticket won the whole lot. The prize has now been claimed and it goes to… drumroll please… 11 office workers who work in San Jose!
The co-workers who range in age from 21 to 60, are financial workers who claimed the prize at the Hayward lottery office the day after the July 24 draw. It was unclear why the winner’s announcement was delayed 10 days.
One of the 11, Robert Reyes, represented the winning Mega Millions lottery group as the news was unveiled Friday through a news release.
He said, “It was spur of the moment. ‘Hey, did you hear about the jackpot? We should play,’ ”
He took the $22 they all clubbed together and went to Ernie’s Liquors in San Jose and bought a few Mega Millions Quickpick tickets.
Reyes said the group hadn’t played any tickets in the previous 22 drawings as the potential prize climbed from $40 million. But $500 million-plus jackpot was just too tempting.
The group showed up at a lottery office in Hayward, California, the day after the July 24 drawing.
“The winners decline to speak with the media or to include a photo with this release. No further information about them will be released,” the California Lottery said.
All eleven winners have chosen to take the lump sum of $320.5 million, which for each Mega Millions lottery group member amounts to $29,140,281 before federal taxes. Luckily for them, the state of California does not tax lottery winnings.
The size of the Mega Millions lottery prize that each member will be taking home is truly life-changing, and speaking to lottery officials, the lucky winners said that they would be using the prize money to pay off mortgages and kids’ college tuition, help family members, go back to school and travel.
They apparently love their jobs so much they don’t plan to stop working even after being in an office pool that won a $543 million jackpot.
“We want to keep our jobs,” Reyes said through the statement issued by California Lottery officials. “We love that company. We love what we’ve built there. We have a good time and want to stay together.”
Mega Millions winning lottery syndicates
People playing together and forming a lottery syndicate have proved extremely lucrative for other office workers, over the years:
- In 2016, seasoned American lottery players will remember the 20 co-workers at a Tennessee auto parts plant who bought $120 worth of lottery tickets twice a week and eventually won a $421 million Powerball jackpot.
- In Indiana in 2013, seven hair stylists at a salon also won a huge American jackpot.
- In Southern California, a group of seven Kaiser Permanente co-workers split a $315 million Mega Millions jackpot won in 2005.
- New Jersey also saw six construction workers who regularly pooled cash to buy lottery tickets, winning $38.5 million on the Mega Millions.
Although with such a big group of people, disputes could arise. However, Russ Lopez, a spokesperson for the California lottery who met part of the group on July 25, said that they had no issue collecting and splitting their money.
“They were extremely friendly, very smart,” said Lopez, “Their heads were on straight.”
“They are casual players, they don’t usually play the lottery,” said Lopez.
Jackpot drawings started on May 8. It took 22 rolls before the group’s winning ticket matched the numbers 19-2-4-1-29 and the Mega number 20. Reyes purchased all of the group’s tickets at Ernie’s Liquors in San Jose because he figured they would have a better chance at a mom-and-pop shop.
It seems the winners may have already heeded this advice. They called each other for a quick meeting the night they won and didn’t have to warn their supervisor because he also participated in the pool. One winner said she plans to invest wisely instead of becoming a “one-time millionaire.”
The lucky store that sold the winning Mega Millions ticket
Kewal Sachdev, the owner of the lucky store that sold the winning Mega Millions ticket, spoke to the media outside his store in San Jose. His store too will be taking home $1 million for selling the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket of $543 million.
Sachdev, who is waiting for his own million-dollar check to arrive in the mail, his reward for selling the ticket, offered some words of advice for the 11 winners.
“They should take care of their family and their friends,” he said, adding that “They need a financial planner and adviser.”
He was overjoyed when he heard the news that Ronald Reyes and ten others had claimed the prize.
“Man, that’s great!” he exclaimed, “That’s wonderful!”
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