BIG WINNERS: Lottery Jackpot Awarded
Wednesday afternoon, 20 Cedar Rapids co-workers came forward to get their piece of the $241 million jackpot- the largest prize to be claimed in Iowa lottery history.
The group that came forward to collect the prize money calls themselves the “Shipping 20.” It’s an appropriate name since they together in the shipping department at the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids.
“I’ve been taking lottery off and on for about ten years, and we wait until it gets up to about 100, 150 mil and then we all chip in 5 bucks and we go and see what we can get. A lot of times we get nothing,” said Al, one of the winners, “but we were lucky this time.”
The good news traveled fast. The group joked that they were the worst kept secret in the state.
“The word got out quicker than we could even imagine. They may have known it upstairs before we even knew it in shipping,” said Al.
But they are keeping their last names a secret. The spokesperson for the group says they want to avoid strangers coming to their doors, and any unwanted extra attention.
Lottery officials say it’s not unusual for winners to want to stay anonymous, but it is rare for it to happen. The group is filing an injunction to keep their privacy.
“Previously we`ve always released those names because we`ve thought those names can and should be public but we`ve never had a group go to court in the fashion this one did. Granted this is Iowa’s biggest lottery winners ever so from that perspective I do understand the groups concerns,” said Mary Neubauer with Iowa Lottery.
After taxes the payout is $5.6 million per person. 11 of the winners are planning for an early retirement. But they say it wasn’t easy to leave Quaker. They say the company is part of the reason they had the chance to win the money. In the floods of 2008, the plant flooded and had to close. However it re-opened, ensuring the winners still had a job.
“We all wondered if we had a job to go back to. I mean my husband and I we`re one of the married couples and that would have been devastating. Both our incomes wiped out like that. We have 2 kids. We just thank god that they came and kept running. We`d both been there 34 years,” said Kelly, one of the winners.
The last Powerball Jackpot won in Iowa was in October of 2006. It was won by a couple from Fort Dodge. At $200.8 million, they held the title for biggest lottery winners, until now.