Gymgoers who get fit together win together
By Kate Northrop
BELDON, Australia — 55 women from a ladies-only gym called Curves are celebrating together after they won the $80 million (US$57.4 million) Australian Lottery Powerball jackpot drawn on Thurs., Dec. 2.
A lottery pool consisting of members from a small gym in a Beldon suburb took home the $80 million Division One Powerball prize last week.
It was also the largest jackpot won in Western Australia and "the equal biggest prize won from any Australian lottery game so far this year," according to Lottery operator The Lott.
"After scoring the entire $80 million jackpot, the Western Australia player has officially secured their name in the Australian lottery books and shares the title of the nation's third-biggest individual lottery winner," The Lott spokesperson Matt Hart said when the draw produced one winning ticket, which was purchased from Beaumaris News and Post on Constellation Drive in Ocean Reef.
It was later determined that the "individual lottery winner" was actually the group of 55 women who pooled their money.
In August of this year, a North Melbourne father also held the only winning ticket for an $80 million Powerball jackpot, becoming Victoria's biggest lottery winner and the country's third biggest winner.
The one to buy Thursday evening's winning ticket was the member who organized the group, known as "Sue." She said she had not participated in a lottery pool for years but was convinced to put one together by the $80 million jackpot that was up for grabs.
"Since COVID-19, the gym has been really struggling, and a lot of ladies at the gym are real Aussie battlers and come here as an outlet," Sue said. "We're a real community, and this is going to be life-changing for every single one of us. The future is looking so bright."
The winner, who is in her 50s, recalled being at a Christmas dinner the night of the drawing with some of the other group members when they heard the incredible news.
"One of our husbands called to tell us we had won, and the minute we found out it was pandemonium," she recounted. "I called over to the waiter and asked for their finest bottle of champagne."
Another pool member, nicknamed "Lucky Lorna," said in an interview with ABC Radio that, although she was not at the Christmas dinner, she thought her fellow gymgoers were pranking her when they informed her of the win.
"[When] I came home, I went to bed and thought, 'I'll just check my phone,' and I had all these missed calls from a lady at the gym," Lucky Lorna said. "I thought, 'why on earth would she be calling me?' So I texted her back and I said, 'why are you calling me? You better be ringing me to tell me we won the Powerball.'"
"Actually, we have," was the response.
Lucky Lorna could tell the news was real when she heard ladies screaming in the background over the phone along with the popping of champagne corks.
She revealed that the group would moan and groan about the idea of one person winning the entire jackpot, so they thought it would be a great idea to form a pool for a chance to divide up the prize money.
"I think it's marvelous that it's been spread around to so many people," she remarked. "I know each and every one of these women, and they are all the loveliest, kindest people who meet at our gym, which is more than a gym — it's like a little social club for middle-aged women."
Every one of the 55 lottery players, who each put down $5 for a share of the Slikpik 50 winning ticket, will walk away with a $1.45 million (US$1.04 million) share.
"I feel like the biggest Santa Claus in the world at the moment because I bought this ticket for these ladies, and it's changing all of their lives, and it really is amazing," Sue told ABC in an interview. "Christmas this year is going to be bigger, brighter and better than ever — it will be a very special time for us."
Thanks to dannyct for the tip.