The last time so many TV trucks were in Holdingford was when Minnesota author Garrison Keillor visited the small town a few years ago, townspeople say.
Until Monday, Holdingford probably was best known as a neighbor to Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon or as the Moonshine Capital of the Nation because a golden brew named Minnesota 13 was created there.
But now, it'll be known as home to the luckiest lunch ladies.
As a city of only about 700 people, everybody knows everybody else, residents say. Perhaps that's why so many people eschewed any jealousies and cheered the winners Monday.
"It's the greatest thing for this town," Pam Lichy said. "I'm so happy we're finally on the map."
The 16 women were described by residents as hard-working, friendly people. All of them showed up for work Monday and stayed until mid-afternoon, when they boarded a bus for lottery headquarters.
Rosemary Scepaniak, who was mayor of Holdingford for 10 years, said she was elated by the news.
"The fact that they all came to work to make sure the kids got their dinner," she said. "They are very deserving of it, and they are very dedicated to their work."
"They're great people," said Mary Jo Gruenes, an employee at the Holdingford Korner Mart. "None of them have very much money either."
A few of the winners were at Mary's Family Restaurant in downtown Holdingford on Sunday night for a VFW dvent and Monday morning for a cup of coffee, employees said. But the winners didn't utter a word about their winnings.
"I'll tell George and Bob (husbands of two of the winners) to leave better tips," restaurant employee Bernice Eiden said jokingly.
It didn't take long for the news to spread. By 1 p.m. Monday, there was a journalist for every customer at Mary's -- about five.
How much will the winners receive?
If the Minnesota winners choose the 30-year annuity option of $95,450,000, the group will receive:
- $3.1 million per year
- $265,138 per month
- $61,185 per week
- $8,716 per day
- $363 per hour
- $6.05 per minute
- $0.10 per second
- $2.1 million per year
- $179,631 per month
- $41,453 per week
- $5,905 per day
- $246 per hour
- $4.10 per minute
- $0.06 per second
If they choose the cash option, they could split a check for $33,715,918
after withholding ($49,765,192 before withholding).
For 16 winners, that amounts to $2.1 million per winner.
Winning lottery is no easy feat
The lottery winners who work at Holdingford high school are sure to increase the number of wealthy people in the town.
Three of Holdingford's 750 residents earned more than $200,000 a year, according to U.S. census data. The average income in Holdingford is $34,000 a year.
The odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 120 million, and it would be almost impossible to buy enough tickets to guarantee or significantly improve the chances of winning, said David Robinson, chairman of the statistics department at St. Cloud State University.
"The Powerball is so improbable," Robinson said.
A lottery player buying one ticket at a time would have to play for for 1.2 million years to offer a fairly good chance at winning, Robinson said.
A person without that much time on his hands would have to buy 100,000 tickets twice a week to offer a fairly good chance at winning, Robinson said. That gets costly.
The winners of Saturday's drawing could take $95.45 million in annual payments for 30 years or $49.8 million in cash.
So how much is $50 million? It would cover more than half of the annual budget of Stearns County, which is about $88 million, or St. Cloud school district, about $90 million.
The Happy Huskers could not make a dent in the federal deficit, however. It stands at $6.8 trillion.
If 16 people took equal shares of the $49.8 million payout, each person would get $3,112,500. That would buy a few standard grocery items, including 1,201,737 gallons of skim milk, which on Monday cost $2.59 a gallon. It also would buy 3,143,939 loaves of bread at 99 cents a loaf.