48 Pa. transit workers still on job after jackpot

May 4, 2012, 8:01 PM

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Four dozen Philadelphia transit agency workers who won a $172 million Powerball drawing are all still working and don’t intend to change much about their lives despite becoming millionaires.

A pool of workers at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s headquarters scored the winning ticket in the April 25 multi-state lottery. They purchased the ticket at a newsstand across the street.

Though the annuity payout of 30 annual installments was $172 million, the group decided to take a one-time cash payout, reducing their windfall to a mere $107.5 million. Split 48 ways, it amounts to a little more than $2.2 million each before taxes.

Most of the “SEPTA 48,” as they call themselves, attended a news conference Friday at the agency’s headquarters to smile for cameras with a giant ceremonial check for $107,533,278.27 from Pennsylvania Lottery officials. The real thing will be in winners’ hands in four to six weeks, lottery executive director Todd Rucci said.

All who spoke expressed gratitude for the security the windfall will provide their families, but said they don’t plan to make any drastic alterations.

“I will still bring my lunch every day,” said winner Bryant Vaders with a smile. “My wife makes a lovely lunch for me.”

There are technically 49 winners because two co-workers split the $5 per-person buy-in for the office pool. They will split their $2.2 million share.

The enviable crowd ranges in age from 26 to 69 and has logged SEPTA tenure from less than a year to 42 years. They work in a variety of departments. They declined to give specifics on their job titles but said none of the winners currently works as a driver.

They come from “culture, backgrounds, heritages … as varied as the customer base we serve,” said winner Robert Landgraf of suburban Abington.

“We are all in awe. We’re excited, we’re humbled and we’re grateful to be given this gift and this opportunity,” he said.

Marylouise Wagner of Essington, just south of Philadelphia, said she underwent heart surgery in January, returned to work after “a long unpaid absence” on April 10 and jumped right back into the lottery pool.

“A scant 15 days later, I won the lottery with my SEPTA co-workers,” she said. “I just want to give my message to everyone _ don’t ever give up because you never know what’s right around the corner.”

The office pool has been active since 2004, though only when a jackpot reaches $100 million or more. Before their millionaire-making ticket, they said they’ve probably won $150 a couple of times.

The group said they’ll keep on playing the lottery.

Daniel DeSantis, the 42-year SEPTA employee, noted that all the winners showed up for work the next day and continue to do so.

“When I look at the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s no longer a regional rail train coming at me, it’s a way out,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a tremendous blessing to all of us.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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48 Pa. transit workers still on job after jackpot