09/14/07 — Newspaper staffers win big in lottery

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Newspaper staffers win big in lottery

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 14, 2007 1:50 PM

Five members of the News-Argus staff came within an eyelash of becoming millionaires this week when they were one number away from a multi-million dollar win in the state lottery.

They did, however, come away with $40,000 altogether. One more correct number and they would have collected the $29 million jackpot.

Production Manager Mich-ael Stewart, Circulation Director Dan Wroblewski, Clarke Hill of the advertising department, Assistant Prod-uction Manager Sheila Thompson and pressman Shane Hill get together every week to toss in $5 a piece for each drawing.

For nine months, they went to the same place and played the same way.

But this week was different.

In search of a new version of Mountain Dew that recently debuted, Shane Hill went to a gas station off of U.S. Highway 70 West, that he normally wouldn't have visited, to play his and his co-workers' tickets.

He decided to use the Powerplay this time, a part of the lottery that multiplies the winnings by the number announced.

His co-workers are happy he did -- the $10,000 they would have won increased to $40,000 since the Powerplay number was 4.

Most of them found out Wednesday night by telephone, but Clarke Hill had no idea he was a winner until Thursday morning.

"They didn't have my phone number," he said. "So I didn't know until I came to work."

For Shane Hill, winning Wednesday night was a little more special.

Today is his birthday.

"It was a great birthday gift," he said.

After taxes, each person will receive about $6,000, and most plan to pay bills and save the rest.

Some, however, have other ideas for the winnings.

"I'm saving half and blowing half," Shane Hill said.

Clarke Hill wants to re-invest in a bowling pro shop he owns.

The fact that they could all be millionaires now took a little of the edge off the excitement for Wroblewski.

"I was really depressed all day," he said. "After taxes, six grand doesn't go real far."

What if they would have won the $29 million jackpot?

They would be singing a different tune and be gone from North Carolina -- at least for a few days.

"I would be in Hawaii today," Wroblewski said.

"That's the same thing he told me that night," said Stewart, who first said he wouldn't have a clue what to do with millions of dollars. After some thought, he said he would take his extended family to Disney World for a week and pay for his son's education.

Mrs. Thompson said she would make sure her immediate family wouldn't have anything to worry about, and she might even keep her job -- part-time.

"I would buy Mr. Tanner a going-away gift," she said.

Clarke Hill and Shane Hill would build -- Clark, a bowling center, and Shane, a house.

Each member of the group has spent about $180 on tickets as part of the group.

And they plan to keep on playing.

"I was going to tell them all today that we need to throw money in for Saturday's drawing," Clarke Hill said.

Wroblewski wasn't as hopeful. "How close are we ever going to get again?" he asked the others.

Stewart disagreed, saying he felt an even bigger win coming soon.

"I have no qualms at all with the return," Stewart said. "I calculated it yesterday, and if I put in $5 a week for 19 years, I won't have to pay a nickel."

"And we are helping education," Wroblewski said. "That's the main thing."