The lottery-winning Holdingford lunch ladies have lots to be thankful for this year.
Armed with recipes, the women are ready for the holidays. The 16 Holdingford school district employees won half of a $190.9 million Powerball jackpot in October. Since then, they've traveled to Hollywood, but they hope to have a relaxing Thanksgiving closer to home.
Fifteen of the 16 opted to take the single-payment cash option, which was worth $2.1 million apiece after taxes. The other was still deciding between the cash option and the annuity option, which would pay $134,000 per year for 30 years.
New wealth hasn't changed the women. Some retired, others paid off mortgages and bought new cars. But none really splurged. They still eat lunch every day in the school cafeteria and discuss the winnings.
"Life, for me, has stayed simple," said Nancy Vouk. "The beginning was hectic, but now everything has calmed down."
Vouk can't seem to snap her penny-pinching ways. She and her husband rejected $69.99 dining room chairs as too expensive. They found different chairs for $35.99 each, and bought six. When they went on sale later, she brought in her receipt, and the store refunded her $30.
As any good cooks would, some of the women have used money to improve their kitchens. Judy Feia wants to replace her 18-year-old refrigerator and buy a pressure cooker, pots, pans and knives.
Donna Lange doesn't miss cooking. She worked one hour after becoming a millionaire, then retired.
Still, Thanksgiving isn't about who makes the best turkey or potatoes.
"To me, any meal is great if you can share it with your family," Lange said.
I didn't know that EACH of the 16 women could choose between cash or the annuity. Is this Minnesota only, or all MUSL members?
I think that is an option for all lotteries that allow cash option/annuity choices at claiming (as opposed to at purchase). The IRS regs say that a winner has 60 days from time of claiming to declare which they choose (or else it is assumed for taxes that they took the lump sum). And, most lotteries treat lottery partnerships/pools/etc. as groups of individual winners for IRS regs (unless they formed a legal partnership or trust, which, in that case, the partnership/trust is the actual legal winner), so each "winner" would then theoretically have an individual choice to make.
vince, that option is NOT available for all lotteries. Some clear examples of this are New York and Texas, both of which do NOT allow the winner to change their mind after the draw. Also, there is a wide variation among state lotteries as to how they treat pools. Some will divide the winnings, while others will not. I'm sure that among those states that will divide the winnings, there is not a "standard" way followed by all states.
I know that there are states that force the annuity/lump sum decision at point of purchase; Virginia used to do this but changed about 7 years ago. That is why I qualified my statement by saying "lotteries that allow cash option/annuity choices at claiming (as opposed to at purchase)".
As for the division of winnings for pools, if a lottery allows for a claimed prize to be split among multiple claimants (at the time of claiming), then they must follow the IRS regulations for both tax witholding and tax reporting for each individual, and thus theoretically if they allow winners to choose the payout option at claiming, each "winner" should have the individual choice to make.
I agree that states that do not allow the choice to be made at claiming are not being fair to their players, as who could conceivably know which option is best for them without contacting a qualified financial planner (which would not be cost effective to do every time you played the game). In fact, I would bet that if a winner in such a state wanted to sue to overturn such regulations and change their mind from their original choice, they might have a good chance of winning such a lawsuit. But, until that happens, players should lobby their state legislators to modify the part of their state code that deals with the lottery to allow the choice after a win.