Worker in NJ Lottery Pool That Won Powerball Jackpot: “I Was in Shock” Over Winning Ticket

Each of the 16 workers put in $6 for the lottery pool

One of the 16 county garage workers in New Jersey who won part of the $448 million Powerball jackpot says she's still in shock. 

"I am numb," said Sue Nickel. "I can't even imagine what will happen in the next few months." 

Nickel and 15 of her co-workers from the Ocean County vehicle service departments learned Thursday morning they had one of the three winning tickets in the $448 million Powerball jackpot. 

A Minnesota man claimed his third of Wednesday's jackpot. The holder of the third winning ticket, also from New Jersey, has not come forward yet.

Nickel and her co-workers all showed up to work Thursday and some were in Friday morning, too. 

"I feel like I'm asleep and I'm going to be pinched and wake up," said Nickel. 

"I've heard it, I've listened to it and I never imagined it would be me." 

Nickel said she and her co-workers each put in $6 for the lottery pool, something they typically organize when the jackpot balloons like it did this week. The group usually purchases its tickets at an Acme Markets store in Little Egg Harbor, which is where Wednesday's winning ticket was printed. 

Nickel says she loves her job and plans to work for another year and a half, though she wants her husband to retire "because he's worked hard for a long time." 

"We haven't decided anything other than that," she said. 

Jim Pine, director of the Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Department, said he couldn't be happier for the winners. "They're a group of wonderful, hardworking people," he told reporters earlier Friday. 

Nickel was among the Ocean County residents hit hard by Sandy last year. She became emotional as she described the devastation.

"We had seven feet of water during Sandy but we're very lucky, very fortunate," she said, adding she was able to stay with her son and daughter-in-law after the storm. 

"We cleaned out a lot of stuff, and we're just starting to regain. This money will really help us." 

Nickel's son is in the Air Force and was set to return home Friday night. 

The other winners in the Nickel's lottery pool have not spoken to reporters. State lottery officials did not immediately return a message Friday morning seeking comment.

Mega-jackpot winners often wait days or weeks before claiming their prizes, giving them time to prepare and make legal arrangements. 

Phil Weber, the director of Acme Supermarkets, said Thursday that the Little Egg Harbor store would donate $10,000 in gift cards to local charities. Weber said some of the store's employees are still out of their homes more than nine months after the storm. The store itself has been making donations since Sandy, Weber said.

The third ticket was sold in a Super Stop & Shop store in South Brunswick in central New Jersey.

The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were 5, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32. Each winning ticket was worth $86 million before taxes, or $58.3 million after taxes, if taken in a lump sum. They are worth $149.4 million over 30 years if the winners choose the annuity option.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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