CEDAR RAPIDS — Laurie Ginder was heading out on her lunch break Wednesday to buy lottery tickets for a work group that calls itself “The Dream Big Team” when her phone rang with news that proved the team is aptly named.
It was Iowa Lottery Chief Executive Officer Matt Strawn calling to tell her that she and 33 co-workers at Collins Aerospace won a special $1 million jackpot.
She turned around without stopping to buy more tickets and returned to work.
“It’s kind of shock at first, and then I was excited,” Ginder said in an interview. “Then I realized that I needed to tell everybody. Now everybody is really excited.”
Not everyone believed her when she sent the email out to everyone.
They asked. “‘Is this a joke?’” Ginder said. “I would show them the email and the text, and then it took a second to sink in.”
Once it became clear she wasn’t kidding, office productivity dropped quickly for a moment.
“It kind of reminded me of a whack-a-mole,” she said. “Instead of a head popping up, you’d hear a shout from different cubicles.”
The Dream Big Team pool had played the lottery for a couple of years before the big win. Members viewed it as “team-building.”
Ginder, 48, hasn’t decided what to spend her share of the winnings on, but she said co-workers are planning on using them to help with college tuition, car payments and vacations.
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The special Iowa Lottery promotion was the result of a $1 million Powerball prize in April going unclaimed.
Lottery players had from May 29 until Tuesday to enter the promotion with any Powerball ticket they bought in Iowa during that time. Players made a total of 165,265 entries, the Iowa Lottery said.
Ginder had purchased the winning ticket at Casey’s General Store at 500 E. Main St. in Anamosa. Casey’s will get a $1,000 bonus for selling it, the lottery said.
It’s not the first time a group of Cedar Rapidians won big. Almost exactly seven years ago — June 20, 2012 — 20 workers from Quaker Oats’ shipping department won a much bigger prize — $241 million.
Ginder said the Collins Aerospace group still plans on playing in future lotteries. In fact, she planned to pick up more tickets for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing after she left work.
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