Powerball office pool wins $1M, co-worker who didn't opt in given share of winnings

Powerball winners
Powerball winners at Laurie Finkelstein-Reader's Florida real-estate office.

(CBS News) When employees at a Florida real estate agency pooled their money for Powerball tickets, they matched five out of six winning numbers -- close enough for a nice jackpot. But for one co-worker, the news brought a different surprise.

Jennifer Maldonado knew something was up at her Florida real estate office after the drawing. She recalled, "Our neon sign had been changed. And it said, 'The LFR team, Laurie Finkelstein-Reader team, won a million dollars.'"

The 31-year-old assistant's heart skipped a beat. A dozen co-workers had invited her to join their lottery pool: $20 each.

But with money tight, Maldonado told them no thanks. She said, "I really thought they were pranking me, because I was the new girl and I was the only one who didn't put into the pool."

But their million-dollar prize was as real as what came next.

"We decided to include her and give her some of the money so that she would feel all the excitement, and part of the family, and know how much we cared about her," Laurie Finkelstein-Reader said.

The group was playing only their second lottery. Before taxes, each of them had won $83,000. Finkelstein-Reader said, "They'll buy houses, they'll buy cars. It will really, really give them a nice little nest egg."

Office lottery pools sometimes make news for the wrong reasons. Seven Indianapolis hair stylists have sued another co-worker, claiming she cut them out of a $9.5 million jackpot last month. That woman was in charge of buying the group's tickets. She claims the winning one was bought with her own money. And in New Jersey, Americo Lopes was in charge of his lottery pool at work. Then he quit his construction job. The very next week, he claimed he had won the MegaMillions lottery. Turns out, he bought the winning ticket before he quit. A jury has ordered him to split the windfall: $38.5 million.

"Karma is huge," Finkelstein-Reader said. "And I think that if you do the right thing, the right thing comes to you."

Finklestein-Reader should know. When she bought her group's tickets at a Florida gas station, another Powerball player cut ahead of her in line. "So the lady who was working with me had to wait," Finkelstein-Reader said. "She waited for him to finish, and then she printed me the additional 60 tickets...which held our winning $1 million Powerball ticket! Yahoo!"

No one will say the size of Maldonado's share, but no one has heard her complaining, either.

Sometimes people do well -- and do good -- in the same moment.

Watch Mark Strassmann's full report in the video above.