SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) – The winners of last months $543 million Mega Millions jackpot have been identified as an office pool group from Santa Clara County, according to California Lottery officials.
The office pool with 11 members claimed the over half a billion dollar prize the day after the July 24th drawing at the California Lottery East Bay District Office in Hayward.
The group bought the ticket at Ernie’s Liquors in San Jose, which got a million dollars for selling it. They declined to identify their business, only saying that it is in the financial industry.
According to the California Lottery, a man named Roland Reyes was the only person identified in the press release of the 11 person pool.
“It was spur of the moment, said Reyes. “‘Hey, did you hear about the jackpot? We should play.'”
The players — who range in age from 21 to 60 — told the Lottery they don’t have a regular lottery pool and just took a chance on the game by pitching in $2 apiece.
Reyes said the group knew where they would buy the winning ticket before they made the purchase.
“A small business owner. We’ll probably have a better chance with a mom & pop shop,” Reyes said of his thought process before going to Ernie’s Liquors.
The group declined to talk to media or pose for photos. They said they planned to use their winnings towards paying off mortgages, kids’ college tuition, helping family members, going back to school, travel and investments.
“It helps real people and families,” Reyes said.
The group said that they planned on continue to work at their jobs, saying, “We want to keep our jobs. We love that company. We have a good time and want to stay together.”
At Ernie’s Liquors, owner Kewal Sachdev said recognized the winner as a regular customer who often came in for tickets and beer.
“That is great news! I’m very happy for them,” said Sachdev.
Sachdev has been selling a lot of lottery tickets since the record jackpot. He said he’s glad an office pool won.
“That’s so good because that’s going to take care of 11 families now. Plus their friends and everybody,” said Sachdev.
The $543 million is the largest prize won in California Lottery history. If the group took the final lump sum cash option of $320.5 million, it would mean each of the 11 co-workers would get $29.1 million before taxes.