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Spontaneous office pool wins $543 million lottery jackpot

August 3, 2018
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File - In this July 25, 2018 file photo, California Lottery official Mike Neis, right, watches as Amol Sachdev hangs a sign over his family's store Ernie's Liquors where a Mega Millions lottery ticket worth more than $500 million was sold in San Jose, Calif. The California Lottery says last month's $543 million Mega Millions jackpot was won by 11 members of an office pool that played on a whim. A Lottery statement Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, says Roland Reyes and the others showed up at its Hayward office on the east side of San Francisco Bay the day after the July 24 draw. The members declined to say where they work, other than that it is in the financial industry and plan to keep their jobs. They declined to speak to media or be photographed. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — 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 Friday.

“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.

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