by Anthony Panissidi , The Asbury Park (N.J.) Press
TOMS RIVER, N.J. - A group of county workers dubbed "Ocean's 16" came forward Tuesday to share emotional stories and claim their one-third share of last week's $448 million Powerball jackpot.
The nine women and seven men, who work in Ocean County's vehicle maintenance department, took the lump sum of $86 million - about $3.8 million each after taxes.
"This is an amazing group of people, and it's been a roller coaster since Thursday," said Brian McCarthy, the group's appointed spokesman.
Some of the winners had their homes damaged in Hurricane Sandy last year. Darlene Riccio said her co-workers had been like family after her house was lost.
"One of the first things I'm going to do is a buy a home," she said. "When I found out we won, I was speechless. I thought they were joking and it was the worst joke ever. It has been an extremely rough year."
The woman who bought the tickets for the group, Lisa Presutto, drew loud applause from her co-workers. She explained that she assumed the duty because she had to stop at the local Acme (grocery) before dinner anyway.
Barbara Jo Riivald said she had forgotten that her father, state Sen. John Brown who died Nov. 2, 2011, wrote the law creating New Jersey's lottery.
"This is a real special moment, and I thank you all," she said through tears.
Another winner, Joseph Odoardo, said he almost retired last year - and now he will.
A day earlier, the group posed at lottery headquarters with an oversized mock check made out to Ocean's 16, a play on the Ocean's Eleven movies.
The Ocean County group bought their winning ticket at the Acme in Little Egg Harbor, N.J. The supermarket receives $30,000 for selling a winning ticket. The other winning tickets were sold in New Jersey and Minnesota.
The winner in South Brunswick, N.J., has yet to come forward. Paul White, an engineer from Ham Lake, Minn., cashed in the other winning ticket.
Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY in McLean, Va.
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