Eight workers at a meat processing plant in the mid-western state of Nebraska have won the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The drawing was held Saturday night and the winners came forward Wednesday at a press conference to claim their winnings. The lucky winners are still stunned by their good fortune.
Lottery officials say the $365 million jackpot was the largest ever in U.S. history. There was only one winning ticket which contained the six magic numbers of 15, 17, 43, 44, 48 and 29.
The winners chose to take a cash option of nearly $178 million instead of getting the full $365 million paid in 30 annual installments. After taxes, the seven men and one woman who bought the ticket together will each receive about $22 million. Winner Eric Zornes said he did not know what he would do with the money, but returning to work is not in his plans. "What can you do with that kind of money? I've been retired for about four days now," he said.
The winners work at a meat processing plant in the mid-western state of Nebraska. They said they regularly pooled their money to buy lottery tickets. They bought their winning ticket at a small grocery store near the plant in the town of Lincoln where they worked the overnight shift.
The only woman among the winners, Chastity Rutjens, 29, said at a news conference in Lincoln they are still in shock. "We're still thinking we're going to wake up from a dream, or something, and it's not all true. We're trying to grasp the fact that we are all millionaires now," she said.
Three of the winners continued to go to work after they learned they were millionaires on Saturday night. One of them was Dung Tran, 34, who immigrated to the United States 16 years ago from Vietnam. Another Vietnamese immigrant, Quang Dao, 56, says he came to the United States looking for a better life. The married father of five said the lottery would change his family's life. "Yes, they are very happy."
Winner Alain Maboussou said his family fled civil war in the Congo and has been living in the United States since 1999. The 26-year old is married and has an infant daughter. He said he worked 70 to 75 hours a week at the meat processing plant and hopes his lottery winnings will allow him to finish his university degree and start his own business. "I'm going to finish up in business administration, major in accounting, and I'm going to open something," he said.
The stunned winners had difficulty answering reporters' questions about what they would do with their new-found wealth. Michael Terpstra said what you dream about doing with the money and what you really do with it are two entirely different matters. "Oh, I'm going to buy an island, I'm going to buy an airplane. Reality: Umm, gee, not a fan of flying, don't really like water. I have no idea what I'm going to do," he said.