Meat Workers Share $365M Filet Mignon

The eight winners of the Powerball Lottery pose with their individual checks in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006. Clockwise from top left: Robert Stewart, Alain Maboussou, Dung Tran, Eric Zornes, David Gehle, Michael Terpstra, Quang Dao and Chasity Rutjens. The Nebraska meat processing plant workers claimed the record $365 million Powerball jackpot, giving each about $15.5 million after taxes. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP
Eight workers at a Nebraska meat processing plant claimed the record $365 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday, giving each about $15.5 million after taxes.

The seven men and one woman all work at a ConAgra ham processing plant near the U-Stop convenience store where they bought the winning ticket last week for Saturday's lottery.

They ended up with the biggest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.

"I didn't know what to think," said Robert Stewart, 30, who said he was a maintenance supervisor before the win. "I still don't know what to think."

The previous U.S. lottery jackpot record was $363 million for the Big Game, the forerunner of Mega Millions. Powerball's previous record jackpot, $340 million, was won by an Oregon family in October.

At least three of the winners Wednesday are immigrants.

Quang Dao, 56, who like Dung Tran, 34, came to the U.S. from Vietnam about 16 years ago, said he was looking for freedom when he headed for America.

"After I hit the lottery, it also changed my family's life in Vietnam," he said.

Alain Maboussou, a 26-year-old who fled his war-torn homeland in Central Africa, said he planned to earn a degree in business administration now.

"It's too early for me to retire, but I did four days ago. I'm going to be working for myself now," Maboussou said. He said of his three-month-old daughter, Katherine, "she's going to be happy for the rest of her life."

The winners said they and others at the processing plant often pooled their money when the jackpots reached about $40 million.

"I don't think they have a reason to be jealous," Maboussou said of the rest of his colleagues, "because when it's a pool day, we ask people to put like in five bucks, so if you wasn't there or you didn't put five bucks in, sorry."

Only three winners quit their jobs when they hit the jackpot. One, Michael Terpstra, 47, said he wasn't sure what he was going to do with the money.

"Everybody has dreams," he said. "Buy an island. Buy an airplane. In reality, I'm not a fan of flying and don't really like water."

The other winners are David Gehle, 53, Chasity Rutjens, 29, and Eric Zornes, 40.

The winning numbers were 15, 17, 43, 44 and 48, with a Powerball number of 29, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association of Des Moines, Iowa, which runs the game for the participating states. Powerball tickets are sold in 28 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Even before the winners were announced officially, it was "all everyone's been talking about at the plant," CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reports. Some of the winners haven't been back to work since the drawing, Solorzano points out.

Ever since the Saturday drawing, the rumors, hoaxes and speculations have gone on nonstop, Solorzano reports.

"Until they actually sign it and show up, I'm not going to believe anything," says Mick Mandl, the owner of the U-Stop store.