CU Employees Who Hit The Lottery Share Their Plans

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JAMESTOWN, N.D.-Last month 18 employees at First Community CU in Jamestown N.D., and one former employee, literally had their numbers come up. They hit the first five numbers in the Mega Millions lottery, failing only to hit the final ball that would have won them the jackpot. The group split $250,000, netting $9,100 apiece. Senior Agriculture Loan Officer Roy Musland and HR Director Bonnie Nelson share the story.

Credit Union Journal: How did this all come about and who coordinates the pool when you play the lottery?
Nelson: We started playing the lottery when it became legal in North Dakota in May 2004. The group increases and decreases, according to employee turnover at FCCU. It has probably been as few as 12 and as high as 20 participants. Probably 10 us have played since the beginning and Sharman Zachrison coordinates it.

CUJ: How did you find out your group won?
Musland: I received an e-mail from the administrative assistant to the president of FCCU, Pam Bieber, informing me and others of a teleconference scheduled for 11:30 am on Wednesday, May 19, that was of "high priority."

Immediately I assumed the worst and printed out the list of e-mail recipients that included tellers, collectors, loan officers and administrators. The list seemed so random and only included partial departments. I could not get my head around that group even though I had been a part of it for six years.

I called Pam Bieber and asked, "Is it something bad?" She said, "No, it is not bad." Pam was amazing how she kept a secret. At 11:30 I dialed the numbers for the conference call. My strategy was to keep as quiet as a church mouse. Zachrison asked who was on the call. I begrudgingly announced, "Roy's here." Then Sharman said, "I just want all of you to know that we matched five out of six numbers in the Mega Millions contest."

Nelson: I had stepped out of the office for a few minutes and when I returned I passed Sharman's office and she followed me into my office and asked me if I ever had checked lottery numbers online. I told her I had, and Sharman said to bring up the lottery website. I immediately looked at her and asked, "Do we have a winner?" Sharman laid the ticket in front of me and said, "Check the numbers." I proceeded to check the numbers across the screen and then checked the date... I told Sharman we needed to walk across the parking lot to the grocery store where the ticket was purchased and have them run it through their machine. We didn't tell anyone and off we went to the grocery store. I handed the ticket to the gal and asked her to run it through the machine. She came back to where we were standing with a big smile on her face and put our ticket in front of us and another ticket saying we were winners.

CUJ: What was your reaction when you found out that you had won?
Musland: I was like the AFLAC goose. I dropped my jaw, shook my head and had a befuddled look on my face. I was not grasping it. Then it started to sink in; we must have won $1,000 and would have to decide as a team if we were going to buy more tickets or split the $1,000. Sharman continued to say "and we won $250,000." It was at that point that I and everyone else got it. Pandemonium ensued. There was literally laughing, crying, and people rolling around on the floor. I fumbled for my cell phone to call my wife, Pam, so she could hear the hullaballoo on my speakerphone; her co-worker thought I was drunk. Pam thought I was drunk, too. I kept saying, "Pam, listen to this, Pam listen to this." Pam laughed and asked with a searching voice, "Roy, what happened, did you win the lottery?" I yelled, "Yeah, yeah we did."

Nelson: I guess I have played the lottery like millions of other people and you never think you really will win. When I saw that string of numbers and they all matched I was elated. I never gave a thought to not having the last number. I was just happy for what we had won.

CUJ: What are you and your co-workers going to do with the money?
Musland: Of course 1,000 people want me to buy them steak and lobster and I have had one request to pay off a house loan for someone who is getting foreclosed on by another lender.

Our family is going to have a team meeting to decide what we will do with the winnings. Preliminary ideas include paying some bills and giving each member of our five-member family some fun money to do with as they choose individually.

My first and prevailing thought is that I want to take my wife, two daughters and son to the 2011 Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. My wife, Pam, is a tennis freak and I have had a quarter century long goal of taking her and our kids to watch tennis on grass. The Wimbledon book is sitting wide open on our kitchen table and we are hoping to watch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal go at it live in 2011.

Nelson: With my winnings my husband and I will travel to Italy and Greece, and probably do a few home improvements. We have a husband/wife team who always jokingly told their children that when they won the lottery they would take the entire family on a Disney Cruise... needless to say their children are holding them to that statement. A few of the staff recently got married, so in January 2011, when it is minus 20 degrees in North Dakota, they plan to be somewhere warm on their honeymoons.

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