A job setter and two machine operators from the East Syracuse-based New Process Gear plant are New York’s newest Mega Millionaires. The winners, 55-year-old Freddie Hands and 47-year-old Ronald Edwards, both of Syracuse, and 44-year-old Douglas Tedford of Canastota today collected an equal share of the $26,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot from the drawing held on June 22nd. Hands, the group’s trusted ticket buyer, said he and his co-workers have been playing together for close to five years with the hope of hitting it big.
“I really just wanted to see if it was possible to win,” said Hands, a 1st shift machine operator. Second shift job setter Tedford echoed Hands’ comments adding, “We just wanted to be lucky enough to hit so we could do right by our families.” Edwards, a third shift machine operator, summed up the group’s motivation for playing by saying, “We got in it to win it.”
The winning numbers for the June 22nd Mega Millions drawing were 12, 17, 21, 23, 30 and Mega Ball 24. Hands purchased the group’s $26,000,000 ticket using a set of hand-picked numbers honoring some of his heroes in sports. “They’re all jersey numbers,” he explained. “12 is for Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys), 17 is for John Havlicek (Boston Celtics), 21 is for Dave Bing (Detroit Pistons), 23 is for Michael Jordon (Chicago Bulls), 30 is for Terrell Davis (Denver Broncos) and 24 is for Sam Jones (Boston Celtics),” he explained.
Hands purchased the winning ticket on the day of the drawing at the East Boulevard Price Chopper in Syracuse where he’s considered a regular. “I buy $5 worth of numbers for us twice a week like clockwork,” he said. Hands checked the winning numbers in the paper and then again online as he prepared to leave work the day after the drawing and then whispered the good news to Tedford at the start of his shift. “The expression on Doug’s face was priceless,” said Hand of his fellow Mega millionaire. Tedford, in turn, told Edwards as he arrived to start his 3 p.m. shift. “Now everyone at the plant knows,” said Tedford. “It’s big news!”
At the time of purchase, Hands opted to receive the group’s prize as a lump sum payment representing the cash value of the $26,000,000 jackpot. The trio opted to split the prize evenly with each receiving a one-time, net check totaling $3,728,078. Hands and his two co-workers claimed their ticket at the Lottery’s South Salina Street Customer Service Center on June 25th.
Plans for the money differ for each new millionaire. “I’d like to buy a new car for my wife,” said Hands. “I’m going back to school to finish my degree in Biology,” said Edwards. “I want to put money aside for my children’s education,” offered Tedford. “I want to see them get ahead,” “I want them to go one better than me.”
Today’s over-sized check presentation follows on the heels of the one-year anniversary of a similar presentation made to the seven members of the Silverbush family of Syracuse who won a $35,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot in May of 2009.
The New York Lottery continues to be North America’s largest and most profitable Lottery, earning more than $39.3 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 40 years ago. The Lottery contributed nearly $2.67 billion in fiscal year 2009-2010 to help support education in New York State, which was over 12 percent of total state education funding to local school districts.
Lottery revenue is distributed to local school districts by the same statutory formula used to distribute other state aid to education. It takes into account both a school district’s size and its income level; larger, lower-income school districts receive proportionately larger shares of Lottery school funding.