Along with 10 others in the office he works at in Santa Clara County, Roland Reyes pitched in $2 on a whim for the largest prize in California lotto history.
They won the $543 million Mega Millions jackpot with a quick pick ticket.
Ranging from age 21 to 60, the group of financial workers claimed the prize at the Hayward lottery office the day after the July 24 draw.
“If I could win, anybody could win. Were just normal people!” Reyes said in a press release.
File – In this July 25, 2018 file photo, Ernies Liquors owner Kewal Sachdev speaks at a news conference in San Jose, Calif. The state lotterys verified Twitter feed says the winning ticket, worth more than $500 million, was sold at Ernies Liquors. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
File – In this July 25, 2018 file photo, California Lottery deputy director of communications Russ Lopez, right, speaks during a news conference with Vishal Birly, from left, Kiran Sachdev, Amol Sachdev and Ernies Liquors owner Kewal Sachdev outside the store where a Mega Millions lottery ticket worth more than $500 million was sold in San Jose, Calif. The California Lottery says last months $543 million Mega Millions jackpot was won by 11 members of an office pool that played on a whim. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
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File – In this July 25, 2018 file photo, California Lottery official Mike Neis, right, watches as Amol Sachdev hangs a sign over his familys store Ernies Liquors where a Mega Millions lottery ticket worth more than $500 million was sold in San Jose, Calif. The California Lottery says last months $543 million Mega Millions jackpot was won by 11 members of an office pool that played on a whim. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
File – In this July 25, 2018 file photo, Mike Bostic, left, smiles as he is handed a lottery ticket by owner Kewal Sachdev at Ernies Liquors in San Jose, Calif. The state lotterys verified Twitter feed says the winning ticket, worth more than $500 million, was sold at Ernies Liquors. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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The group didnt have a usual lottery pool and they told Mega Millions they plan to keep working.
All eleven winners have chosen to take the lump sum of $320.5 million, which for each member amounts to $29,140,281 before federal taxes (the state of California does not tax lottery winnings). The lotto earnings will be taxed as income at the highest bracket, 37%, coming to a whopping tax-bill of roughly $10.7 million.
The size of the prize that each member will be taking home is truly life-changing. Its enough to buy 220 Tesla Model Xs, 12.2 homes in Santa Clara — or pay half of Steph Currys annual salary.
But instead of splurging, the winners mentioned using their share of the winnings to pay off mortgages and kids college tuition, help family members, go back to school and travel.
The group has declined to give interviews and to say where they work other than its in the “financial industry.”
Russ Lopez, a spokesperson for the California lottery met part of the group when they, “still in shock” came to claim their winnings.
“They were extremely friendly, very smart,” said Lopez, “Their heads were on straight.”
“They are casual players, they dont usually play the lottery,” said Lopez, adding that the group was drawn to play by the size of the jackpot.
Jackpot drawings started on May 8. It took 22 rolls before the groups winning ticket matched the numbers 19-2-4-1-29 and the Mega number 20. Reyes purchased all of the groups tickets at Ernies Liquors in San Jose because he figured they would have a better chance at a mom-and-pop shop.
Ernies Liquors owner, Kewal Sachdev, was overjoyed when he heard the news that Ronald Reyes and ten others had claimed the prize.
“Man, thats great!” he exclaimed, “Thats wonderful!”
He didnt recognize the name of the winner, but said that he could likely identify him if he showed up at the store.
Sachdev, who is waiting for his own million-dollar check to arrive in the mail, his reward for selling the ticket, offered some words of advice for the 11 winners.
“They should take care of their family and their friends,” he said, adding that “They need a financial planner and adviser.”
It seems the winners may have already heeded this advice. They called each other for a quick meeting they night they won and didnt have to warn their supervisor because he also participated in the pool. One winner said she plans to invest wisely instead of becoming a “one-time millionaire.”