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Hollywood Ending for ‘Ocean’s 16’ Lottery Winners in Hurricane-Hit Community

August 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
In New Jersey, 16 Ocean County employees hit it big last week, winning a third of a $448 million Powerball jackpot. The lucky group of co-workers, who call themselves "Ocean's 16" after the famous film, explain how they feel about taking home $3.8 million each.

JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight: the made-for-TV story of 16 lottery winners in New Jersey. They call themselves Ocean’s 16, a play on the movie title, for the Ocean County employees who hit it big last week, winning one-third of a $448 million Powerball jackpot.

The nine women and seven men work in the county’s vehicle maintenance department and bought the ticket at the Acme supermarket in Little Egg Harbor Township, just a few miles from where superstorm Sandy hit last fall.

They stepped forward today at a news conference, proudly waving mock checks made out for more than $86 million, the lump sum value of their ticket. Lottery spokeswoman Judith Drucker said each will take home $3.8 million after taxes.

JUDITH DRUCKER, New Jersey State Lottery: If we were going to have a Hollywood script writer write the story of 16 hardworking people in Ocean County, many of whom had a lot of damage to their homes — we all in Ocean County suffered from that storm — and that one of the winners was the daughter of the man who wrote the lottery law in New Jersey, nobody would buy this story because they would say it’s not true. But it is true.

LISA PRESUTTO, lottery winner: I couldn’t believe it. I got up, did my usual morning thing. I was having my cup of coffee. I looked up the winning lottery numbers, and I saw that number 32 was the Powerball. And I’m, like, 32? I knew that we had 32 four different times, because Willie had been writing down how many different Powerball combinations we had.


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LISA PRESUTTO:   So I went to my lunch box. I got the photocopy of the — all the tickets. And I’m going through them, flipped the page, go to the second page, see 32. And I’m looking, huh? No. I look again. I’m, like, no.

And I immediately just started shaking. And I’m just staring at it, and I didn’t know what to do. So I got up. I walked down the hall. I opened up the bedroom door, and I had to wake my poor husband up, who is no longer poor.


LISA PRESUTTO:   I said, Pat? And he rolls over. And I said, I really need you wake up. And I walk over to the side of the bed, turn the light on. And I just — I said to him, I think we won the lottery, and I need you to double-check me, as I’m shaking.

I turn the light on. He focuses his eyes. He looks. He’s like, oh, my gosh. And then the next thing I did, I wanted to let everybody know, but I just couldn’t. I wanted to be positive.

I sent a text message to my supervisor, Tabitha, and she came back with that it was a little bit too early in the morning to be messing with her like that.


LISA PRESUTTO:   And I’m, like, yes, no kidding.

I’m like, I’m shaking. I need you to double-check me. In the meantime, I have got to jump in the shower to get ready for work. And then she comes back with, I don’t have it with me. It’s on my desk, meaning the photocopy of all the tickets.

I get done taking a shower, read her message. I’m like, oh. I go and get my phone to take a picture of the photocopy of the ticket. And I send it her.

And she just comes back with, OMFG.


LISA PRESUTTO:   And I finished getting ready for work, and I headed to work.


DARLENE RICCIO, lottery winner: It has been an extremely rough year.

But I did — when we lost everything, this whole group here and everybody that I worked really pulled together and helped me through. And so this has been, like, a great family for me. We lost our home in the storm. I was just renting. I didn’t own it. But we lived there for five years, me and my daughter. So now I stayed with my brother for a few months and got a little apartment above a storefront.

So, the first thing I’m going to do is buy me and my daughter a home and bring my dog back home.


WILLIE SEELEY, lottery winner: I’m just going to continue watching NASCAR racing on Sunday. Maybe I will be at my log cabin on multiple acres of land.


WILLIE SEELEY: And I don’t want to be a — I could stay up here and talk. I will just do it. 


WOMAN: You’re going to pay for it.

WILLIE SEELEY: I think I can afford maybe more air conditioning in here.


WILLIE SEELEY: I would just like to thank everybody. Everybody’s been so overwhelming to us all. And it’s — it’s just happy, happy, happy.

Thank you.


JEFFREY BROWN: There were two other winning tickets. Paul White of Ham Lake, Minnesota, claimed his one-third of the jackpot on Thursday. The third ticket was sold in South Brunswick, New Jersey, but its owner has not come forward.