NASHVILLE — A group of 20 co-workers from an auto parts manufacturing plant in Tennessee claimed the $420.9 million Powerball jackpot Tuesday.
When Steve Huffman's check engine light popped on in his car, he would have been in financial trouble.
However, it's no longer a concern for the 54-year-old Westmoreland, Tenn., resident.
"I don't have to get frantic about that anymore," Huffman chuckled to a group of reporters at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters in Nashville on Tuesday after learning he'd become one of the state's most recent millionaires.
Huffman is one of 20 co-workers from a Portland, Tenn., company who entered an office pool over the weekend and won the Powerball jackpot.
The winners, from 13 different cities in Tennessee and Kentucky, work together at North American Stamping Group where they primarily handle sales and quality control at the auto parts manufacturing plant.
Tennessee Lottery officials said the winning ticket, which matched all six Powerball numbers drawn Saturday, was sold by Smoke Shop Inc. Owner Joyce Gregory in Lafayette, Tenn. — a city of about 5,000 residents that is about 60 miles northeast of Nashville.
"I am really tickled. ... It's really going to help our town," said Gregory, who scored $25,000 just for selling the winning ticket.
Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove said the cash value of the jackpot is worth $254 million which equals just more than $12.7 million for each person before taxes.
The winning numbers: 17-19-21-37-44; Powerball, 16; Power Play, 2.
The ticket is the 200th ticket sold by the Tennessee Lottery worth $1 million or more and the win marked the second-largest prize for the Tennessee Lottery. The first was the $528.8 million prize won by a Munford, Tenn., family in January as its share of the largest lottery jackpot ever. They were one of three ticket holders to claim the $1.6 billion jackpot.
Three of the 10 largest Powerball prize payouts and one of the largest MegaMillions pots have happened this year, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, an affiliation of the lotteries that sell Powerball and MegaMillions tickets. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico the U.S. Virgin Islands and 44 states offer the Powerball game, in which players choose the first five numbers from a set of 69 white balls and the Powerball from a pool of 26 red balls.
"You never think you're going to win this lottery, but you do it for fun," Amy O'Neal said of the winning group self-dubbed "The Tennessee 20," who have been playing the lotto for eight years.
The group, she said, buys $120 worth of tickets every Wednesday and Saturday to support education and the state.
O'Neal, who lives in Lafayette and bought the ticket for the group, said she didn't check the ticket Saturday night.
Thinking it was a million in one chance to win, she went to bed.
The next morning, her son learned the ticket was purchased in Lafayette. He and her husband immediately woke her to the news.
"They were shaking me and shaking me. ... I went in and grabbed my tickets. It was the third one," O'Neil said. "I just started screaming. I had to look again, I thought I was in a dream."
O'Neal said when she alerted her colleagues they didn't believe her at first.
"They were like, 'Oh my gosh, Amy, shut up, we're not going to work today.' Everybody was just screaming. Just the joy."
O'Neal also thanked God, gave props to President-elect Donald Trump and also asked people to pray for the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and for all those suffering because of this week's wildfires hammering East Tennessee.
"We're in a joyful situation but there is also a sad situation," she said.
Huffman, whose 18-year-old daughter attends Belmont University and whose 21-year-old son is a U.S. Marine serving overseas, called his winning co-workers a group with a heart of gold.
"All these people have always had a heart to help people and be there for people ... we can do that if we don't have any money," Huffman said, nearly breaking into tears. "Now we can do more and help more. There's going to be a lot of people blessed."
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