By Kate Northrop
FLORENCE, Ky. — A group of 30 middle school employees carpooled to the Kentucky Lottery after the final school bell rang on Tuesday to collect their $1 million Powerball prize.
30 educators from a Boone County middle school regrouped after work to collect the $1 million Powerball prize they won in the Jan. 27 drawing and showed up at Lottery headquarters in high spirits.
The group calls themselves the "Jones 30," named after the Rector A. Jones Middle School in Florence that brought them together.
Lottery staff witnessed the group entering the lobby with cheers and the winning ticket safely tucked away in a math textbook.
The organizer of the group, a retired math teacher, was the one to see that their ticket had matched all five white balls in the Jan. 27 drawing the day after it took place. The first five numbers were 7, 38, 65, 66, and 68, but they missed the Powerball 21 to win the $163.8 million jackpot.
She stuck the winning ticket in a math textbook to keep it safe.
"No one looks in a math book," she joked with the Lottery. "I knew it would be safe there... page 200. I have checked this a thousand times."
The group has been playing the lottery together for over eight years. Even those who have moved on or retired have continued to participate.
"We all taught at the same school at one point or another," one winner told the Lottery. "We've got counselors, admins, special ed teachers, the school nurse... Some have moved on or retired but we still continue to do it. We've remained buddies for all of these years."
In the first several years of playing together, they didn't think much of the numbers they played. However, that changed in 2019 when the group had chosen a unique set of Powerball numbers, and from then on, they stuck with those numbers each week.
"Our math teacher and assistant principal pulled them out of a hat," one winner explained. "At first, we didn't have the right amount of numbers to choose from, so we drew again. Thank goodness we did."
Kentucky Lottery President and CEO Mary Harville welcomed the group with ceremonial checks and participated in a photo op with the winners. She handed each winner their individual prize, which came out to $24,000 after taxes.
"Kentucky Lottery games create fun for our players," Harville said in a press release. "These winning educators were having the time of their lives. It was wonderful to watch another chapter in their friendship unfold, thanks to the Kentucky Lottery."
30 group members mean 30 different ways for how each winner is envisioning putting their portion of the prize to use. Some winners are thinking of investing the money, while others are looking to use it for travel or home repairs.
No matter what each of them decide to do with their prize, what stands out is the camaraderie they share through years of playing together.
"A lot of us have gone on trips together, we've had babies and grandbabies over the years," another winner related. "We always have so much fun. It's just cool to win as a group and share this experience."
The group said they plan on continuing to play the lottery together as a fun way of keeping in touch with one another.
The winning ticket was bought at the Kroger in Hebron on North Bend Road. The retailer will receive a $10,000 bonus for selling it.
The Powerball jackpot currently stands at $206 million for the next drawing on Sat., Feb. 3 at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.
Powerball is played in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets cost $2 each.
Powerball lottery results are published within minutes of the drawing at USA Mega (www.usamega.com). The USA Mega Web site provides lottery players in-depth information about the United States's two biggest multi-state lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball.