10 Utahns to split $1M in lottery winnings

May 24 2011 - 11:30pm

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(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Mike Baca, one of 10 people at JBT AeroTech/Jetway who won $1 million in the Idaho Powerball lottery last week, poses for a portrait Tuesday at his Ogden home. “I’m one of 10,” he says, “so when it’s all said and done, it’s enough money to make a difference, but I still have to go to work on Monday.”
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Mike Baca, one of 10 people at JBT AeroTech/Jetway who won $1 million in the Idaho Powerball lottery last week, poses for a portrait Tuesday at his Ogden home. “I’m one of 10,” he says, “so when it’s all said and done, it’s enough money to make a difference, but I still have to go to work on Monday.”

OGDEN -- Going on the theory that "if you don't play, you don't win," 10 friends at JBT AeroTech/Jetway have been pooling $400 a month, at $40 each, to buy Powerball lottery tickets in Idaho for the last 10 years.

After years of losing $4,800 a year, their investment is paying off. Last week, the Idaho Lottery announced Tuesday, the Utah friends hit it big, winning $1 million that they're splitting 10 ways.

That comes on top of the group's $50,000 in winnings in November.

Mike Baca, of Ogden, was quick to point out that, after splitting the money 10 ways, and after having Idaho and federal taxes taken out, they're really only collecting $67,200 each.

Plus, Utah income tax will be dealt with when 2011 taxes are paid.

So nobody's turning the money down, but nobody's quitting their job either.

"Oh no, just paying bills, and I think I'll take my family for a good vacation without having to worry about anything," Baca said.

"It's a good sum of money that can make you live a little more comfortable, have all the bills paid."

Baca, 41, said he became the unofficial spokesman for the group because the others are shy and "I'm outgoing." But he said all of the players look at the win as an investment finally paying off.

It was a long, dry spell, but he said a member of the group figured out that, when they won $50,000 last November, they broke even, so the $1 million they won this time is pure gravy.

"We play PowerPlay all the time," he said, referring to a $1 option on the $1 Powerball ticket that multiplies the winnings.

"We pitch in money and purchase lottery tickets for the month, and we've been doing this for 10 years, roughly. We always play the PowerPlay because if you don't play the PowerPlay, you don't win the good amount."

Idaho Lottery spokesman David Workman said the group managed to guess the first five numbers of the winning drawing, but did not guess the correct Powerball number.

Baca said he had trouble convincing his wife that the group had won. He has been playing the lottery for so long and pretending he'd won so often that when he finally did win, she didn't buy it.

"She didn't actually believe me until she heard me talking to my friends (and) she actually saw the ticket," he said.

"I kind of made her a joke. I said, 'Do you love me for me or for my money?' and she said she loved me when I was poor."

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