Group of 33 To Split $214.7 Million
Originally Posted: Oct 11, 2004
Revised: Oct 12, 2004
33 workers at The Guide share big Powerball prize
By CHIP GUY
If you know someone who works at The Guide in Sussex County, chances are you now
An attorney representing employees of the family-owned advertising shopper
A short statement from Georgetown lawyer George B. "Buck" Smith was released
Delaware Lottery officials confirmed that they validated the sole winning ticket
Smith said all will claim individual prizes of about $3.5 million before taxes.
Wayne Lemons, director of the Delaware Lottery, said the group elected to take
The winning ticket was sold at an Uncle Willie's store in nearby Blades. State
Divided 33 ways, with 28 percent in federal income taxes removed, the winners,
Delaware allows lottery winners to claim their winnings without releasing their
See complete coverage Wednesday in The News Journal and at
Seaford area may sprout millionaires
By CHIP GUY
Seaford has a secret. And folks are just aching to let it out.
Word around town is that 33 employees at a Seaford-area business are the winners of Saturday's $214 million Powerball jackpot, a prize that would make them millionaires and bring a national spotlight on the little town in tiny Delaware.
That is, if people in coffee shops, hair salons, convenience stores, gas stations and ambulances have it right.
"It's like wildfire, that's for sure," said Ron Marvel, a local downtown merchant and volunteer firefighter who heard the tale at an auto accident scene early in the day. "People are just starting to find out. Everybody's just kind of awestruck."
A manager of a convenience store in Blades said a clerk there probably sold the winner in a bundle of tickets for an office pool. One member of the alleged pool could not suppress a grin in a sandwich shop when asked about it.
Delaware lottery officials said they do not know who holds the ticket, or where it was purchased, because that information must be pulled out of the computer and state offices were closed Monday.
Powerball officials said Sunday that one winning ticket was sold in Delaware. No one came forward Monday with the $214 million ticket.
Still, that didn't prevent scores of people in southwestern Sussex County from cranking up the rumor mill.
In sandwich shops and convenience markets, at hardware stores and on the street, people were asking one another if they had heard the news.
Secrets often are hard to keep, especially in a small, rural area like southwestern Sussex, where the biggest town is Seaford with just 6,700 residents. People either know somebody or know somebody who knows somebody.
Count Diane Oneschuk among those who know somebody - somebody who is millions richer.
"One of them is my friend. She called me [Sunday] night, so I've got the personal inside scoop," Oneschuk said, a smile creeping over her face as she fried hamburgers on the grill at Fran's Dairy Market just outside Blades.
She said another winner confessed to the windfall Monday morning, saying he was among the employees at the nearby business where 33 workers pooled their money to buy tickets. When he stopped in Fran's to grab a bite to eat, Oneschuk asked him a pointed question.
"I said, 'Are you one of them?' " Oneschuk said. "He said, 'Yeah,' and his face just lit right up."
At the office where the rumored winning group works, business appeared to go on as usual Monday. The News Journal is withholding the name of the business until state lottery officials give confirmation, possibly later this week.
Employees sat at their desks behind computers, taking telephone calls and dealing with customers. When a reporter asked if the workers had won the jackpot, a manager said no one was making any comment, and that lottery officials would hold a news conference later in the week.
Several employees of the business, contacted at home, said they did not want to comment. Others did not return telephone calls.
Michelle Lewis, the manager of Uncle Willie's convenience store in Blades, just across the Nanticoke River from Seaford, said she thinks the ticket was sold at her store - an event that would earn a $10,000 bonus for the owner.
Lewis said one of her clerks sold $165 in computer-picked tickets around 12:30 p.m. Friday to a man who was buying them for an office pool. The man works at the local business now purported to employ the winners.
Nearly 100 people had called Uncle Willie's on Monday wanting to know if what they had heard were true.
"We've had phone calls all day long. I'm just so excited for them," Lewis said. "Nothing ever happens here."
Now something has - maybe - and it's already a source of pride.
Powerball players like Mauree Chaffinch, who were left Monday holding worthless scraps of paper, said there was something comforting about knowing that somewhere nearby, 33 people were in the money.
"It's better than it being out in the Midwest," Chaffinch said, alluding to the fact that other states in the multistate lottery game usually are home to the winners.
Some said it was a bit of good economic news for Seaford, which fell on hard times in the 1990s when the DuPont Co. began to scale back employment at its nearby nylon plant. DuPont has since sold the plant to another company.
"Think about it: This will probably make Seaford more millionaires per capita than any other town in Delaware," said Rick Cullen, a Delmar, Md., resident who sells advertising at a small Seaford newspaper. "Who needs DuPont? We've got 33 millionaires."
$214 million lottery ticket sold in Delaware
Someone who bought a Powerball ticket in Delaware has a secret worth $214.7 million dollars.
And as eager as Wayne Lemons is to know who the lucky winner of Saturday's jackpot is, the state lottery director advises that mystery person not to rush into his office.
"Take a very deep breath, take another, wait and talk to the best lawyers and tax advisers, and put the ticket in a safe place," Lemons said Sunday. "We believe in a situation like this with so much money involved, the winner should get good legal and tax advice before they claim it."
He said the Delaware Lottery Office will hold a news conference later in the week. State offices are closed today for Columbus Day so officials won't know which store sold the winning ticket until Tuesday.
All lottery officials knew Sunday was that one ticket - and only one - had landed the Multi-State Lottery Association's Powerball jackpot, which had been accumulating since Aug. 18.
The $214.7 million jackpot ranks as the sixth-largest ever. It's also the fifth-largest ever won by a single lottery ticket.
The winner has a year to claim the prize, Lemons said, and can choose between a 29-year, 30-payment annuity or a cash option of $116.9 million.
The winning numbers were 01, 03, 10, 47, 48, and the Powerball was 27. The Power Play multiplier was 3.
The last time Delaware had a Powerball winner was 2001, when Hockessin teacher Kathleen Kearney and her brother in Pittsburgh won a share of a $294.8 million jackpot. They split the prize with three other winners. That ticket was sold at Books & Tobacco in Hockessin's Lantana Square Shopping Center.
Owner Andy Somers said he'd love it if his store sold the winning ticket a second time.
"After the last big one, we got a big feed of people for a couple weeks," he said.
But he warned players to check their numbers. Don't believe rumors about which store sold the winning ticket and then accidentally throw away a prize, Somers said.
Powerball is played in 27 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. About $660 million was raised through the program for state projects.
And this past week it raised hopes for players who bought more than 68.1 million tickets between Thursday and Saturday.
"This is really a life-changing event for someone," Lemons said.