Two Macon County residents are a whole lot richer this week after they were a part of a group of 20 longtime co-workers that will split a $420.9 million Powerball jackpot from the drawing held Nov. 26, 2016.
Amy O’Neal and Steve Huffman, both of Macon County, are a part of the group that is now referring to themselves as the “Tennessee 20” after they claimed their winnings on Wednesday in Nashville.
“All this time playing has been fun, but I never truly thought we would win,” said O’Neal, who served as the group’s spokesperson. “It’s still sinking in, but we’re having a blast!”
The lucky ticket was sold right here in Lafayette at the Smokeshop on Scottsville Road. Owner Joyce Gregory was on-hand to receive a $25,000 selling bonus and to join Amy, a long-time loyal customer, the other winners, family members and Tennessee Lottery staff members.
“I’m just really tickled,” Gregory said. “I am pleased for this group and this will really help our town.”
The winners, from 13 different cities in the mid-south, work together at North American Stamping in Portland. They primarily handle sales and quality control at the auto parts manufacturing plant.
Immediate plans varied—from a vacation in Italy, helping family with medical bills, sending children to college and purchasing new vehicles—but one thing was unanimous: the desire to help others.
“This group has a heart of gold,” said Huffman. “They always have and they always will.”
O’Neal said that some in the group have been buying lottery tickets for years.
“Part of us have been doing this for eight years,” she said. “We faithfully do this, it supports education and Tennessee.”
The winning ticket was a Quick Pick where a computer randomly selected the player’s numbers.
O’Neal said that she didn’t even check to see if she had the winning ticket on the night of the drawing.
“I got up to fix my husband a pot of coffee – he was going hunting,” she said. “And my son heard Lafayette on the TV and started texting and saying that he knew that mom had bought that ticket – wake her up. So I went and grabbed the tickets, it was the third one.”
O’Neal said that she immediately started screaming.
“I had to look again and thought I was in a dream,” she said. My husband had to look then I started calling people and they wouldn’t answer their phones and I was like, ‘Get up!’”
The group spends about $120 each week on lottery tickets and in the past has used any small winnings to purchase more tickets.
The winners chose the cash lump sum payment of $254.7 million and will split it evenly, which means each winner will receive about $12.7 million.
- 200th Tennessee Lottery ticket sold worth $1 million or more
- 6th Powerball jackpot won in Tennessee. Additional winners include:
- $528.8 million jackpot won by a Munford family in January 2016, who split the $1.58 billion world-record jackpot with winners in two other states.
- $259.8 million prize won in Knoxville, June 2014
- $144.1 million prize won in Antioch in November 2015
- $50 million won in Knox County, March 2015
- $25.5 million won in South Pittsburgh, March 2005
- The highest Powerball jackpot (and largest in U.S. history), is the $1.58 Billion Powerball jackpot won in January 2016 and shared by three winning tickets in Tennessee, California and Florida.
- Tennessee players have won approximately $1.8 Billion in Powerball prizes since April 2004.
- Powerball sales alone have generated an estimated $690 Million for education in Tennessee since the game was launched in April 2004.
- The Tennessee Lottery has raised more than $3.9 BILLION for specific education programs in Tennessee, including college scholarships, after-school programs and Tennessee Promise
- Since Fall 2004, more than one million scholarships, grants and awards were funded during Academic Year 2015-16
- In addition to the educational beneficiaries, players have won over $10.4 billion in prizes and Lottery retailer partners have earned nearly $1 billion in retailer commissions since the Lottery began selling tickets on Jan. 20, 2004.
Powerball Game Details
- Overall odds to win a prize are 1 in 24.9. Odds to win the jackpot are approximately 1 in 292 million.
- Powerball is played in 44 States, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
- Powerball drawings are held Wednesday and Saturday nights.