Originally created 07/31/98

'The Lucky 13' to claim Powerball prize



WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- After years of pooling money to buy lottery tickets, a group of machinists who call themselves "The Lucky 13" stepped forward Thursday to claim the biggest prize yet -- the $295.7 million Powerball jackpot.

One of the 13 workers at Automation Tooling Systems in this Columbus suburb drove 100 miles to buy 130 tickets just over the Indiana line for Wednesday's drawing.

"It took a long time to believe we actually hit it," said John Jarrell, a burly man with a long mustache who was the first of the 13 men to identify himself. "You go from totally excited to scared to death."

The Lucky 13 won't officially be the winners until the Indiana lottery office validates the ticket.

The jackpot was worth $295.7 million in payments over 25 years, but the winners took the cash option -- one payment of about $161.5 million, Indiana lottery officials said. The Lucky 13 intend to split the money evenly, for $12.42 million per person before taxes, their lawyer said Thursday.

The winning numbers were picked randomly by a Powerball computer at a Speedway gas station in Richmond, Ind.

Jarrell and his wife, Sandy, both decked out in black Harley Davidson apparel, said they and their three children were already racking up quite a wish list. Tops on Sandy's list was her own Harley to match John's.

"I've already got mine. She wants one of her own," Jarrell said.

The other members of the Lucky 13 tried to remain anonymous Thursday when they met with Columbus business attorney Larry Sturtz at their plant. Managers of the Canadian-owned assembly systems plant, besieged by reporters and photographers, slipped the 13 workers out in a crowd of employees released early for lunch.

The prospective millionaires all showed up at their jobs but didn't do much work Thursday, company spokeswoman Barbara Palmer said.

"Actually they came to gloat I think," Ms. Palmer joked. "No, they came to share in their good fortune with us."

Sturtz told the 13 men, ranging from their 20s to 50s, to plan their estates, get sound investment advice and be wary of long-lost friends or relatives who decide it's time to get reacquainted.

"There will be cousins they haven't heard from in years and years that you know are going to say I need a loan or I've got a great deal for you. They've got to learn to say no to all those things," he said.

"Brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, distant cousins -- all of whom are going to come out of the woodwork now and ask for a piece of the action."

Sturtz said the group had been playing lotteries for years, but had never had any substantial success.

"Some little things, but nothing like this," he said.

The winning ticket was being held in a safe-deposit box Thursday. Sturtz said the ticket's journey back to Indiana would be in an armored vehicle.

The Richmond Speedway gas station-convenience gets $100,000 for having sold the ticket. "I'm so excited about it I just don't know what to say," said Connie Morris, a Speedway clerk.

Hoosier Lottery Director Jim Maguire said Thursday he had spoken with Sturtz and was expecting a copy of the winning ticket to be faxed to Indianapolis later in the day.

It would be at least next week before the prize is claimed, Sturtz and Maguire said.

The jackpot, which falls back to $5 million for the next drawing, swelled in the past weeks in the 20 states and District of Columbia where Powerball tickets are sold when nobody matched all five numbers and the Powerball.

The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were 8, 39, 43, 45, 49, and Powerball 13. To win, players who pay $1 per ticket must match the first five numbers from a pool of 50 numbered balls and the Powerball, which is drawn from a separate pool.

The previous record jackpot for a single-ticket winner was $195 million, also in the Powerball game, won by an Illinois couple in May.