FOND DU LAC, Wis. – The 100 cheese company workers who won a Powerball jackpot worth $208.6 million tried a number of things to increase their luck — and finally won when they rubbed the belly of a small statue of the Buddha.
"We don't know if it was this Buddha that brought us luck. We don't know if it was our prayers to God that were answered," said Mary Entringer, who organized the pool. "We have no idea, we're just grateful."
Entringer, 55, said workers on the second shift at the Sargento Cheese plant in Plymouth pooled their money for three years before they bought the winning ticket to the Aug. 5 drawing.
The winners, who call themselves the "100 Miracles," turned in their ticket Friday. They have hired a lawyer and plan to split the prize equally.
They spoke Wednesday morning at Ma and Pa's Grocery Express in Fond du Lac, where they bought the ticket.
The grocery is along the so-called "Miracle Mile," a street where several stores sold multimillion-dollar tickets during the 1990s.
Seventy-five of the jackpot winners participated in Wednesday's event, with Entringer and one other speaking at the news conference.
Entringer said three winners have left the company — one retired, one went into business with his wife and the third wanted to pursue other opportunities. She said she plans to continue working at the cheese factory, but will use the money to buy a lake home in northern Wisconsin.
State law requires a court order to split the prize, and the lottery said it expects to receive one within several weeks. Each person can pick either the lump sum or installments, according to the Wisconsin Lottery.
If a person picks the lump sum, he or she will get $660,000 to $670,000 after taxes, Sargento spokesman Joe Trost said.
Lottery spokeswoman Jessica Iverson said people who pick the installment plan will get 30 payments, once a year after the initial payment. The first would be about $37,000 and the last would be about $110,000.
After the court order is issued, each person will get a payment or the lump sum within 10 business days, Iverson said.
Ma and Pa's — which will receive $100,000 for this latest win — sold a winning Megabucks ticket worth $6.5 million in 1994 and has sold winning tickets for $500,000, $250,000 and $100,000.
Sargento chief executive officer Lou Gentine has said the winners do a variety of jobs, such as cutting and shredding cheese, loading trucks and performing maintenance. Most earn between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, he said.
The family owned company packages shredded, snack and specialty cheeses and other snack foods.