SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> A group of California co-workers who decided to play the lottery on a whim won last month’s $543 million Mega Millions jackpot, the largest prize ever on a single state ticket, the California Lottery said Friday.
The 11 co-workers who work in the financial industry in the San Francisco Bay Area said they don’t have a regular lottery pool but decided to chip in $2 a piece when they heard how big the jackpot had become, the Lottery said in a news release today.
“It was spur of the moment,” said Roland Reyes, the only person among the co-workers whose name has been released, the Lottery said.
” ‘Hey, did you hear about the jackpot? We should play,’ ” Reyes said, according to the Lottery.
Reyes and his newly multimillionaire co-workers, who range in age from 21 to 60, claimed the prize the day after the July 24 draw, the Lottery said.
Remarkably, Reyes said he and his co-workers plan on keeping their jobs, though they declined to specify where the group works.
“We love that company,” he said. “We love what we’ve built there. We have a good time and want to stay together.”
The group can take $543 million over 30 years or a lump-sum option of $320.5 million. Both options are before taxes.
They have declined to speak to reporters or be photographed.
Ernie’s Liquor in San Jose, where Reyes bought the winning ticket, gets $1 million for its role in the jackpot.