Eight New Hampshire post office workers who have played the lottery together for 15 years finally hit it big with a $200,000 winning Powerball ticket.
The New London co-workers contribute $2 per week to the pool and buy eight tickets for each of the biweekly drawings.
When veteran worker Karen Willis went to lottery headquarters in Concord, she knew only that their ticket, which had five of the six winning numbers, was worth more than $600. When lottery officials told her she had a $200,000 winner, she burst into tears.
“Wouldn’t you?” she said Thursday. “I was just so happy.”
Once she composed herself, she phoned her colleagues. They each received checks Wednesday for $25,000, before taxes.
Postmaster Chuck Weinstein knew the ticket was a winner when Willis ventured to Concord on Tuesday, but even he didn’t know the dollar amount. “Everyone else was kind of in the dark,” Willis said. “We were all very surprised.”
Willis said the tight-knit group of employees who won “have been here forever.”
“We kind of stick together in here,” he said.
Willis said co-workers let the lottery machine choose the numbers for their tickets, which they buy at the grocery store across the parking lot from the post office. Their winning ticket was in the Sept. 11 drawing.
They were one digit off from hitting the $79 million jackpot, which no one won. Their ticket’s Powerball number was 32; the winning Powerball number for that drawing was 33.
Their ticket was one of five $200,000 tickets drawn nationwide. The other winners were in Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
Willis said the group isn’t ruing how close they came to being millionaires, and are quite pleased with their winnings.
“It really helped me,” Willis said.
In addition to Willis and Weinstein, the winners were Carl Gissler and Toni Lopez, of New London; Marily Bullis and Kandy King, of Newport; Oliver Fayton, of Newbury; and Becky Newcomb, of Croyden.