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26 Golf Club Workers Win Lottery

25 July 2000

VERO BEACH, Florida --(Press Release) –July 25,2000-- Twenty-six employees of the Bent Pine Golf Club, who have spent years serving meals, washing dishes and tending to the needs of members, suddenly can afford to join the club.

Each chipped in $2 into a pool to buy lottery tickets last week and came away with the lone winning ticket in Saturday's $65 million Florida Lotto drawing.

"I've lived on the street all my life. I've never had nothing," 23-year-old waitress Kathy Wilson said with a smile Tuesday. "This is a gift."

Just last week, Wilson, a single mother of four, was scraping together change for gas money to get to work. Now she plans to buy a house and take her children to Disney World. Despite living just an hour south of Orlando, she's never been able to afford the trip.

Club employees have been pitching in $1 twice a week for five years to buy tickets. None of the 26 winners -- including a secretary, valet, an assistant golf pro and a florist who often performs work for Bent Pine -- have quit since learning during Sunday's lunch rush that they'd struck it rich.

But the size of the prize has been somewhat distracting.

The workers, who range in age from 19 to 51, take home an average of about $250 each week. They will now decide whether to take a one-time $32.1 million payment or split the jackpot over 30 years. Either way, they'll be able to afford the club's $25,000 lifetime membership fee.

Clubhouse manager Russell J. Kelly, 34, has spent a lot of time talking with lawyers and investment counselors and getting advice from the other winners. Every financial adviser in town has called, Kelly said Tuesday during a brief break between phone calls.

Head dishwasher Terri Bary, 43, and her dishwasher husband, Robert, checked the Lotto numbers in Sunday's paper. Her co-workers didn't believe her when she delivered the news they had won.

A club employee for 17 years, she'll continue working and use the money to help her elderly parents.

Waitress Keri Dillingham, 22, plans to finish her degree in psychology and invest her portion. She'll also buy her boyfriend a new truck. His vehicle broke down Tuesday morning and his boss was threatening to fire him if he didn't show up for work.

Club member Pat Lee walked toward the clubhouse for the noon meal and said she thinks it is wonderful so many good, down-to-earth people won the jackpot.

"I do have to laugh though," Lee said. "I wonder everyday now if I'm going to get lunch."

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