Supemarket workers share lottery jackpot

Sunday, September 2, 2001

BRICK, N.J. -- Shoppers at the local Pathmark supermarket might have to wait a little longer for someone to ring up their purchases.

Thirty-three of the store's 250 employees shared one of the two winning tickets for a Big Game lottery jackpot worth $115 million. The other half of the Friday jackpot in the multistate game goes to the holder of a ticket sold in Camden.

Paul Silecchia was the first Pathmark worker to realize he and his colleagues were rich. He came in early Saturday to go through their pool of tickets, and found that one had all six numbers.

"I stared at it for about a minute," he said.

"I'm still numb, in shock, total disbelief," said employee Lillian Mahaffey.

Mahaffey, a customer service representative at the supermarket, had been up all night caring for her ailing young son. "When I came in and they said we won, I said 'Don't tease me; I'm in no mood for it today."'

Back to work

Store manager Bernadette Lemke, who also had a share of the winning ticket, said she had to remind her fellow new millionaires several times Saturday morning to go back to work.

She had another problem: "My husband doesn't even know yet. I just did an interview with the radio, and when he hears my voice, he's gonna die."

"Everyone is happy for us," she said. "Even the customers are happy for us."

The 33 colleagues each put $10 into the pot -- enough for 330 tickets.

Taking their winnings as annuities with payouts spread over 26 years would mean a total of about $1.7 million per person. Taking the one-time cash option would reduce that by about half. The workers initially chose the cash option but several said they were considering changing to the annuity.

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