Video: 100 winners

updated 9/28/2006 9:33:58 AM ET 2006-09-28T13:33:58

The organizers of a lottery pool at a cheese company were starting to get discouraged. They had tried good luck charms for three years and even considered going to a different store to buy the tickets.

But then a worker suggested rubbing the belly of a Buddha statue, which some say will bring good luck. They set the statue on the tickets in a worker’s locker, and people went in to rub it.

Then their luck changed, as they won a $208.6 million Powerball jackpot in August.

“We don’t know if it’s the Buddha that brought us the good fortune to win this. We don’t know if it was our prayers to God that were answered,” said Mary Entringer, who organized the pool at Sargento Foods Inc. in Plymouth. “We’re just grateful it was 100 people, and we’re all going to share in this bounty.”

The winners, who call themselves the “100 Miracles,” turned in their Powerball ticket Friday and plan to split the prize equally.

Entringer, 55, said 70 to 90 workers on the plant’s second shift usually pool their money for the lottery when the jackpot is over $100 million. But she said something made her go against company rules and make an announcement over the public address system the day before the Aug. 5 drawing. That boosted participation to 100 employees.

Entringer spoke during a news conference with about 75 of the winners Wednesday in front of Ma and Pa’s Grocery Express in Fond du Lac, where they bought the ticket. The store will receive $100,000 for the win.

'Wonderful to share'
Entringer said four winners have left the company — a 63-year-old woman retired, a man went into business with his wife and another person wanted to pursue other opportunities. The fourth was a college student who worked at the company over the summer.

But other workers, including Entringer, said they plan to keep working at the factory. Most winners earn between $30,000 and $50,000 a year.

Entringer said she will invest her winnings and look for a lake home in northern Wisconsin — and keep playing the lottery on her own.

Shirley Roehrborn, 54, said her first day back at work after they won was emotional.

“Everybody is hugging, everyone is crying,” she said. “It was just wonderful to share it with everyone.”

State law requires a court order to split the prize, and the lottery said it expects to receive one within several weeks. Each person can pick either the lump sum or installments, according to the Wisconsin Lottery. Entringer said most people picked the lump sum, which is $660,000 to $670,000 after taxes.

People who pick the installment plan will receive about $1.4 million after taxes. Lottery spokeswoman Jessica Iverson said they will get annual payments for 30 years, with the first about $25,000 and the last about $79,000 after taxes.

Mike Theune, 23, one of the youngest winners, said he also plans to remain at Sargento, although he wants to pursue a degree in human resources management. He plans to invest most of his winnings for an early retirement, but does want to buy a house, an all-terrain vehicle and a vehicle for his father.

“I’m going to live the simple life and lead a low profile,” Theune said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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