A group of 20 Long Island Costco employees calling themselves the "1937 Flatbush Avenue Dodgers" in tribute to the 73-year-old Brooklyn baseball fan among them who bought the winning ticket, stepped forward Thursday in the parking lot of the big box store where they work to claim first prize in a June 1 Powerball jackpot.
The winners, who opted to take a lump sum payout instead of stretching their winnings over 20 years, will actually share $70.2 million after taxes, New York state Lottery officials said. The group formed a legal entity named for the Dodgers, which will administer the distribution of the jackpot to the 20 new millionaires, lottery officials said.
The winners haven't decided whether they will keep working at the massive store, where shoppers were filling up carts with industrial-sized boxes of soda, cleaning supplies, candy and other groceries amid the smiles and high-fives nearby. The employees include pharmacists, security guards, meat cutters, merchandise managers and supervisors.
"We're all dedicated to making our money last, and just to breathe easy and have a happy life," said Kim Karkota, one of two winners who were designated as spokespeople for the media-shy group.
Anthony Manzolillo, 73, of Lindenhurst, who bought the winning ticket, declined to speak with reporters. Co-winners said the group named itself after the Dodgers because Manzolillo was a fan of the Brooklyn team, which moved to California after the 1957 season. The 1937 designation apparently represents the year he was born.
Karkota said he called Manzolillo the morning after the winning numbers were chosen to confirm their good fortune.
"I'm like, Anthony, quickly get out of bed and go get the winning ticket because we won the Powerball last night," Karkota recalled. "He said, `Really? We really, really won?"' Within hours, all 20 - even a co-worker vacationing in Mexico - had received word that they were winners.
The winning combination was 8, 18, 38, 46, 56 with the winning Powerball No. 31.
Karkota explained that the group each chipped in $5 a week and pooled their money for the lottery tickets. She said the group had only been playing Powerball together for about a month when they hit the jackpot. "We got in when the jackpot was $144 million," she said. Because there were no winners for several weeks, the jackpot eventually climbed past $200 million.
New millionaire Ralph Green, 61, of Copiague, concurred that the winners were still being tentative about spending their fortunes before confessing, "I think a trip to Las Vegas is appropriate."
Lottery officials said other winners expressed interest in gathering their families together from around the country for reunions or finding new places to live. One even suggested "upgrading my Harley" Davidson motorcycle.
The Lindenhurst, N.Y., retailer who sold the winning ticket received a $10,000 bonus from lottery officials.
Multi-State Lottery Association: http://www.powerball.com