An eleven person office pool at a Wells Fargo branch in San Jose has won the largest single lottery jackpot in California history. The group claimed their $543 million 'Mega Millions' prize two weeks ago, and opted for the lump sum of $320.5 million, which amounts to $29,140,281 for each.
After a hefty federal tax, at 37 percent (the highest bracket), each will take home over $18 million. That's right... Uncle Sam will take home roughly $10.7 million for each of the eleven winners.
The financial employees range in age from 21 to 60, and the group's spokesman, Roland Reyes, said he pitched in his $2 "on a whim" before walking into Ernie’s Liquor to buy the lotto tickets.
The owner of Ernie's Liquors, who sold the winning ticket, identified by The Mercury News as Kewal Sachdev, will himself receive a check for $1 million according to lottery rules.
When the winners were initially reported it was unknown that they were financial employees, something it appears they tried to conceal for fear it would negatively impact their careers:
Reyes, who said they work at a finance company but decline to identify it out of fear of losing their jobs, was shocked by the news, saying, “If I could win, anybody could win. We’re just normal people!”
However in recent reporting journalists uncovered the Wells Fargo branch they work for, which was closed last Saturday morning as the news hit.
“This branch is closed,” read a sign on the locked doors of a Wells Fargo branch office in a strip mall on busy Branham Ave. in south San Jose, while its staff spent the day thinking about things more thrilling than other people’s money.
The group's spokesman told the AP that they all plan to keep their jobs at Wells Fargo: “We love that company,” Roland Reyes said. “We love what we’ve built there. We have a good time and want to stay together.”
But it appears they took the first Saturday off work as confused customers showed up to their local branch to find it unexpectedly closed.
Though a number of jackpot winning office pools in recent history have quickly divided when a member of the group refused to share, or when disputes over distributing the money arises, resulting in lawsuits, it appears this group is cooperating thus far and keeping cool heads.
Since the half-billion dollar jackpot draw began on May 8, it took the group 22 rolls before striking it rich with the winning numbers of 19-2-4-1-29 and the Mega number 20.
The group says it sought out a mom-and-pop run store because it seemed like the luckier bet.