116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WATERLOO — It could be an especially rockin' New Year's Eve for one Waterloo man — and 21 of his lottery-pool friends.
Rob Long of Waterloo is one of five finalists nationwide who are eligible to win a $1 million prize from the "First Millionaire of the Year" Powerball drawing, which will be held just after 11 p.m. Dec. 31 and announced on “Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve” with Ryan Seacrest.
Shari Beenken of Titonka, in north Iowa's Kossuth County, also is a finalist for the prize. It's the first time any state has had more than one finalist for the Powerball promotion, according to a Wednesday announcement.
If he wins, Long said he will share the prize with a lottery pool he oversees with 21 others, including his brother and current and former employees of ConAgra in Waterloo, where Long works as a warehouse associate.
Though he keeps track of the shared ticket purchases on a spreadsheet, he didn't tell the others he was entering the New Year’s Eve promotion on their behalf, he told lottery officials in an interview.
"I think the biggest thing for me was the surprise on everybody's face," Long said.
The five finalists also received a $10,000 cash prize and an entertainment package valued at $10,000, including a 70-inch TV, laptop computer, sound system and more.
The Waterloo group split the cash and held a drawing at Long’s house for the entertainment package items.
"I put everybody's name in the bowl," he said. "I even got one. It was like my luck keeps continuing."
If Long and his group win the $1 million, that makes for $45,455 each for 22 people, before taxes.
Long said he would get his wife a newer vehicle with the money, and if there's any left over, he'll buy a retro Donkey Kong arcade machine.
"I'm an '80s guy, and I love arcade games," Long said. "I told my wife I was always gonna get one — here's my chance. I'm 50 years old, but I'll still play some Donkey Kong."
This is the third year for the Powerball promotion on the New Year’s Eve show, according to Powerball officials.
Long doesn't remember the last time he stayed up past midnight for New Year's Eve but said all his lottery pool buddies are invited to join in this year’s party.
"We're looking forward to it," Long said. "It's gonna be fun."