20 Tennessee co-workers to split $420M Powerball jackpot

Steve Huffman glanced down at the check engine light that popped on in his car and sighed.

On a normal day, the 54-year-old Westmoreland, Tenn., resident said, he would have been in financial trouble.

But this was no normal day for Huffman.

"I don't have to get frantic about that anymore," Huffman chuckled to a group of reporters at the Tennessee Lottery headquarters in Nashville on Tuesday after learning he'd become one of the state's most recent millionaires.

Huffman is one of 20 co-workers from a Portland company who entered an office pool over the weekend and won a $420.9 million Powerball jackpot.

The winners, from 13 cities in Tennessee and Kentucky, work at North American Stamping Group, where they primarily handle sales and quality control at the auto parts manufacturing plant.

Tennessee Lottery officials say the winning ticket, which matched all six Powerball numbers drawn Nov. 26, was sold by Smoke Shop Inc. owner Joyce Gregory at 711 Scottsville Road in Lafayette, Tenn., about 60 miles northeast of Nashville.

Plans to spend the money varied — from vacations and new vehicles to sending children to college and paying medical bills — but one thing was unanimous: the group’s desire to help others.

"I am really tickled. ... It's really going to help our town," said Gregory, who scored $25,000 just for selling the winning ticket.

Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove said the cash value of the jackpot is 254 million, which equals just over $12.7 million for each person before taxes.

The ticket is the 200th ticket sold by the Tennessee Lottery worth $1 million or more, and the win marked the second-largest prize for the Tennessee Lottery. The first was the $528.8 million prize won by a Munford family in January.

"You never think you're going to win this lottery, but you do it for fun,"  Amy O'Neal said of the winning group self-dubbed "The Tennessee 20," who have been playing the lotto for eight years.

The group, she said, buys $120 worth of tickets every Wednesday and Saturday to support education and the state.

O'Neal, who lives in Lafayette and bought the ticket for the group, said she didn't check the ticket Saturday night.

Thinking it was a million in one chance to win, she went to bed.

The next morning, her son learned the ticket was purchased in Lafayette. He and her husband immediately woke her to the news.

"They were shaking me and shaking me. ... I went in and grabbed my tickets. It was the third one," O'Neal said. "I just started screaming. I had to look again, I thought I was in a dream."

O'Neal said when she alerted her colleagues they didn't believe her at first.

"They were like, 'Oh my gosh, Amy, shut up, we're not going to work today.' Everybody was just screaming. Just the joy."

O'Neal also thanked God, gave props to President-elect Donald Trump and also asked people to pray for the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and for all those suffering with the wildfires hammering East Tennessee.

"We're in a joyful situation, but there is also a sad situation," she said.

Greenbrier, Tenn., resident and group winner Kevin Southerland, 43, said he and a majority of his coworkers plan to keep working. Several, he said before smiling, may resign.

Huffman, whose 18-year-old daughter attends Belmont University and whose 21-year-old son is a U.S. Marine serving oversees, called his winning coworkers a group with a heart of gold.

"All these people have always had a heart to help people and be there for people..  we can do that if we don't have any money," Huffman said, nearly breaking into tears. "Now we can do more and help more. There's going to be a lot of people blessed."

Copyright 2016 KXTV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment