Usually, getting a phone call at 1 a.m. can only mean bad news.
But it was great news Sunday morning for a group of 20 laboratory employees at Medical Associates in Clinton, Iowa, who learned they will share a $667,142 prize in Saturday's Powerball drawing.
One of the group, Carol Fritz, said they have been pooling money and buying Powerball tickets for three years, winning small amounts here and there.
With Saturday's Powerball jackpot up to a record $365 million, the group decided to put in $2 each instead of $1. Beth Determan bought the group's 53 tickets at Lyons Filling Station in Clinton.
Co-worker Bobbi Fransen said Determan got a call from her brother late Saturday, telling her he had heard a winning ticket had been bought in Clinton and telling her to check her tickets.
One of the tickets had the five correct numbers of white balls to win the Match 5 Bonus Prize, missing only the Powerball number. The only winning ticket for the record $365 million jackpot was sold in Lincoln, Neb.
The news set off a series of early-morning calls. Fransen remembers when she got hers.
"It was 12:49, to be exact," she said Monday.
Fransen said she didn't get to the phone in time to pick it up, but heard Determan on her answering machine.
"It was Beth saying, 'we won!'" Fransen said.
The group initially thought they had won much less, but later learned the size of the jackpot had inflated their prize to the point where they will receive about $24,000 each, after taxes.
Fritz said the late hour and surprising news left her confused by the phone call.
"Some of us, like myself, were thinking, 'Was that for real, or did I just dream it?' " she said.
She will be convinced today when the group is presented with their check in a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the medical clinic.
Fritz said most of the lab workers plan to use the money to pay bills, and she hopes to add a new deck to her house.
Fransen plans to invest some of her money and possibly use some for a down payment on a new house. She said the money also will make a trip she already had planned to Las Vegas in June a little more enjoyable.
"Of course, there's going to be a few thousand to have some fun with," she said.
Margie Adams, who said she is a little older than most of the group, said she hopes to put her money toward a home where she can retire.
"It's enough to get us excited and pay some bills," she said.