Scott Olson/Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Even as the so-called “Tennessee 20,” the group of coworkers who won Saturday’s $420.9 million Powerball drawing, discussed what they planned to do with their surprise winnings — from new trucks and homes to weddings and family legacies — they also talked about helping their community.
“We’re supporting education and we’re supporting Tennessee,” Amy O’neal, the group’s leader, said during Tuesday’s news conference in Nashville, Tennessee, announcing the jackpot winners.
Rebecca Hargrove, CEO and president of the Tennessee Lottery, said each member of the Tennessee 20 stood to collect $12.7 million.
The Tennessee 20, coined Sunday by O’neal’s son, work together at the North American Stamping Group in Portland and hail from 13 cities across mid-Tennessee and southern Kentucky.
O’neal said the winnings would help at least 500 people in the group’s circle of family and friends. Also, in light of Giving Tuesday, she said they were looking into donating to those affected and displaced by wildfires ravaging the town of Gatlinburg and other communities a little more than 3.5 hours away from Nashville.
O’neal, who said she’d been working at the North American Stamping Group for 10 years, said the 20 focused on new products, sometimes working 24 hours together, and traveled often together.
She said she’d purchased the tickets for the office pool from the Smoke Shop in her hometown of Lafayette, Tennessee. O’neal said the group usually bought tickets for the Wednesday and Saturday drawings when the jackpot reached a certain amount.
She called the Smoke Shop a “hometown business” that she visited often and where everyone treated each other like family. Joyce Gregory, the owner of the Smoke Shop, received $25,000 for selling the winning ticket.
“I am really tickled,” Gregory said Tuesday. “It’s really going to help our town.”
O’neal said that her son woke her up early Sunday morning to tell her the winning ticket had been bought in Lafayette. After checking the numbers at least three times, she started calling her coworkers around 5 a.m. They thought she was pranking them when she said they all needed to come over to her house. It took one coworker four hours to get there because his car wouldn’t start.
O’neal said her winnings would help her daughter, who’s a teacher and often has to bring lunch for children who don’t have the means to buy or bring meals themselves.
Everyone was present when the ticket was scanned Monday. Steve Huffman shared that while driving Monday, his “check engine” light had lit up. He said for the first time, it did not worry him. Don Sword said that he and his wife planned to build a legacy for the family with the winnings.
“It’s a gift that we definitely want to use the right way,” he told ABC affiliate WKRN-TV.
According to the Tennessee Lottery, it was the sixth Powerball jackpot won in the state and the 200th ticket sold by the Tennessee Lottery that was worth $1 million or more.
The jackpot has an estimated cash value of $254.7 million, making it the second-largest prize for the lottery.
On Tuesday, the group agreed that they’d informed the president of the North American Stamping Group that no one planned to leave immediately. They all said they would continue to work for the time being and help the staff find replacements.
“We love that company,” O’neal said. “I’m not planning on quitting. … [But] I might change my mind.”
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