Central Kentucky Workers Verified As Powerball Winners

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Mike Willett knew immediately what he wanted after finding out he was one of 22 people to win a $61.5 million Powerball jackpot.

"Show me the money," Willett said, clapping his hands together.

Willett and 21 current and former co-workers from Nukote International in Bardstown, Ky., will split the sixth highest prize in Kentucky Lottery history. The cash option for the jackpot pays out $28.5 million. After taxes, that comes out to about $895,000 per person. The Powerball win was the 15th in Kentucky Lottery history and the first since July 2003.

Kentucky Lottery CEO Arch Gleason congratulated the group.

"It's a lucky day for the Nukote 22," Gleason said.

The group of 20 women and two men worked in customer service and accounts receivable for Nukote, which makes paper, inkjet cartridges and laser toner. Each member of the group has paid $1 a week into a collective pot for the last 12 years and let lottery computers pick their numbers.

One of the group, Connie Mattingly, checked the lottery numbers Thursday morning and realized the group had won. She called Janet

"I think we won the lottery," Mattingly said.

Shelver checked the numbers. "I said this is it," Shelver said.

"Then she hangs up on me," Mattingly said.

A flurry of phone calls ensued to others who paid into the lottery pool, each saying later they couldn't believe the news.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Shelver said Thursday afternoon.

Two members of the group drove to Louisville early Thursday, while 19 others rented a white, Cadillac Escalade SUV limo to ferry them from Bardstown to the Kentucky Lottery headquarters to turn in the winning ticket and claim their winnings. They each have preliminary plans for their cut of the money - paying off bills, putting kids through school, helping family members.

"It's been a Godsend," said Janet Adams, who plans to use her share to send her two children through school.

Kathy Graham plans to make up a missed lunch to her husband. The couple was supposed to meet to celebrate a wedding anniversary, but
canceled so she could help turn in the winning ticket and attend a press conference.

"I told him I would buy dinner tonight when I came home," Graham said with a laugh. "If I go home tonight."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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