Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

May 18, 2013

Record Powerball jackpot inspires office pools

-- — In workplaces across the nation, Americans are inviting their colleagues to chip in $2 for a Powerball ticket and a shared daydream.

The office lottery pool is a way to improve your odds and have a little fun with co-workers. And besides, who wants to be the only person at work the next day when everyone quits?

With $600 million on the line, this is the time to play. It’s the largest-ever Powerball jackpot and the second-largest world jackpot of all time. And it could get even bigger before tonight’s drawing.

The Multi-State Lottery Association recognizes the popularity of work pools, especially when the stakes are so high. In the last few years, lottery officials have offered tips for organizing pools.

“The appeal is they can stretch the value of their $2,” said Norm Lingle, executive director of the South Dakota Lottery and chairman of the Powerball Executive Committee.

But it’s important to be careful. Workplace pools that yield big jackpots sometimes result in lawsuits, broken friendships and delayed payouts. Follow these steps to make sure you’re ready to divide your winnings.

Lottery officials encourage pools organizers to lay down rules, put them in writing and distribute the details to all participants before the winning numbers are drawn.

Linda Golden, of Gettysburg, Pa., may set the bar for how to manage an office lottery pool. An employee for more than three decades at a printing company called Quad Graphics, Golden has organized a pool for years and requires everyone to sign in, showing they contributed. She had 14 co-workers on board when the jackpot pushed past $200 million in late March.

They only won $4. But instead of distributing what would have amounted to about 27 cents a person, Golden bought more tickets for the $1 million Powerball drawing on March 27 without telling the others. She hit the jackpot and never gave a thought to keeping the winnings all for herself. One co-worker was a woman who used a walker because of a foot problem. Another had just been to the emergency room because of a knee problem.

“I say it over and over again. That ticket we won was meant for those two ladies and the rest of (the group) is there for the ride,” she said.

After taxes, each person ended up with about $50,000.

Golden’s winning ticket has only stirred more excitement in her office for Saturday’s giant Powerball jackpot. She estimated she had 26 people in her pool this time.

“This time, it’s starting to take up so much of my time. So many people wanted to join,” she said. “It’s kind of getting out of hand.”

In Collinsville, Ill., just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, seven firefighters were pooling their money for a $14 ticket that offered seven plays.

Mike Harris keeps the pool in order by distributing a photocopy of the ticket to each contributor and scrawling their names on the handout. To him, it’s just common sense.

“There’s no confusion,” he said. “This is the ticket we have.”

———

THE GOOD AND THE UGLY

If you’re the person buying the tickets, make sure co-workers are aware if you plan to buy personal tickets on the side.

That didn’t happen in Indianapolis, where a hairdresser became involved in a lawsuit with seven of her former co-workers.

Christina Shaw claims the winning ticket wasn’t part of an office pool. The hairstylists say they had all verbally agreed to share any winnings from any tickets purchased at the same time as those for the pool.

“People don’t realize that this is serious business,” said New Jersey attorney Rubin Sinins. He represented five construction workers who claimed a colleague cheated them out of a share of a multimillion-dollar lottery jackpot. The man claimed he won the 2009 jackpot on a personal ticket — not with a ticket he bought as part a lottery pool.

There’s also an Ohio man who missed his weekly lottery pool because of an injury, then later sued his co-workers for a chance to share their winning $99 million jackpot.

“When you go in with people in an agreement that involves potentially millions of dollars, you’re talking about a contract,” Sinins said. If a ticket wins, “then issues can arise as to who’s actually part of the pool, who’s entitled to the money, what proofs there are to establish that.”

———

PLANNING FOR THE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE

It’s smart to plan. But it also can feel silly to plan for something that is nearly impossible to win. Or is it?

The chances of winning the latest jackpot are about 1 in 175.2 million. That’s how many ways a person can combine the numbers to make a play. But Sinins said it’s still important to consider what would happen if you somehow overcame the odds.

“If there was no chance, you wouldn’t do it,” he said. “And you obviously want to do it. So you want to make sure that there’s no problem afterward.”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Taiwan Gas Explosions_Stew.jpg Gas explosions in Taiwan

    At least 24 people were killed and 271 others injured when several underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan’s second-largest city overnight, hurling concrete through the air and blasting long trenches in the streets, authorities said Friday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration Overload_Roge.jpg Immigration courts speed up children’s cases

    Immigration courts are speeding up hearings for the tens of thousands of Central American children caught on the U.S. border after criticism that the backlogged system is letting immigrants stay in the country for years while waiting for their cases to be heard.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Extra jurors seated for long Ga. salmonella trial

    After three days of jury selection, a panel with plenty of extra members was seated Thursday to hear the case of three people charged in connection with a deadly salmonella outbreak traced to a southwest Georgia peanut plant five years ago.

    August 1, 2014

  • Liberia West Africa E_Roge.jpg Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for patients and others exposed to the disease.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Roge.jpg U.S., U.N. announce deal on Gaza cease-fire

    Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning Friday, during which time there will be negotiations on a more durable truce in the 24-day-old Gaza war, the United States and United Nations announced Thursday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Congress_Stew.jpg Congress oks VA, highway bills, not border measure

    Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break after failing to agree on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking illegally to the United States.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wisconsin Unions_Stew.jpg Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds union law

    The fight over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signature policy achievement, a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public employees, ended Thursday with the state Supreme Court declaring it to be constitutional.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1714, Britain's Queen Anne died at age 49; she was succeeded by George I.

    August 1, 2014

  • GBI: Sheriff's Youth Home resident arrested in Hahira

    GBI: Sheriff's Youth Home resident arrested in Hahira

    July 31, 2014

  • Hospital: 33 dead after Guinea concert stampede

    Hundreds of people leaving a late-night rap concert on a beach in Guinea rushed to leave through a single exit, creating a stampede that killed at least 33 people, officials said Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results