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Manhattan co-workers split $58 million jackpot

Lucky 16 Trust

Drawing Date: 3/24/2015

April 30, 2015 - Sixteen co-workers in the Manhattan office of biopharmaceutical company Ophthotech pooled their money last month for a shot at the $58,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot drawn on March 24 and walked away multi-millionaires.

The winners calling themselves the “Lucky 16 Trust” is comprised of New York Lottery players from Accord (Ulster County); the Bronx; Brooklyn; Queens; and Manhattan as well as eight New Jersey residents and another who shuttles between New York and her home in California.

The beneficiaries of the Lucky 16 Trust include:
•Walesca Ayala of the Bronx
•William Barber of Hackensack, N.J.
•Kevin Berth of Hainesport, N.J.
•Desiree Beutelspacher of Venice, Calif.
•Valerie Chiong of Union City, N.J.
•Sonia Cruz of the Bronx
•Janice Graboso of New Brunswick, N.J.
•Evelyn Harrison of West New York, N.J
•Matthew Jung of Edgewater, N.J.
•Natasha Malik of Long Island City
•Harvey Masonson of Accord
•Natasha Moore of Brooklyn
•Yordak Salermo of Manhattan
•Samantha Scroxton of Jersey City, N.J
•Denise Teuber of Manhattan
•Lillian Vazquez of Jersey City, N.J.

Group spokeswoman and company COO Evelyn Harrison said the Lucky 16 represent senior executives, administrative staff “and everyone in between.”

The lucky colleagues have been playing together since 2010 with a brief hiatus last year during the company’s reorganization. Harrison said individual office pool members contribute $4 weekly toward the purchase of multi-state game tickets.

“We rotate who buys the tickets and the stores where we buy to be fair to everyone,” Harrison said. “We also require the buyer to send copies of the ticket to everyone in the group so we all have it.”

The group, she said, is not nearly as organized when it comes to checking the winning numbers.

“There was a lot of buzz around the office following the drawing as everyone learned the jackpot winner was sold in our building,” she laughed. “A few of us decided we should probably check our numbers and we went from one person’s computer to another’s checking each person’s scan of the ticket because we wanted to be absolutely sure. Once we were convinced, we sent an email to everyone else to tell them to check out the winning numbers for themselves.”

The winning numbers for the March 24 Mega Millions drawing were 02 – 23 – 32 – 45 – 55 – and Mega Ball 12.

Matthew Jung, one of the Lucky 16 who accompanied Harrison to claim the ticket, said members of the group later huddled in a conference room to let the news sink in and to do some jumping around.

“There was a lot of energy in that room. We told ourselves to focus on work like nothing had happened. But, something DID happen, and, to be honest, we didn’t accomplish a lot that day. It’s been a very intense ride,” he said.

The beneficiaries of the Lucky 16 Trust will split a one-time cash payment of $38,334,435 (net $25,369,729). Each winner will receive a 6.25 percent share of the prize which amounts to more than $1.65 million.

The group’s plans for the money range from paying off school loans and mortgages to investing for retirement.

Harrison said the group has pledged to watch out for one another. “We’re a small group. We ground each other. We won’t let anyone get carried away.”

The jackpot-winning ticket was purchased at Carlton Cards at One Penn Plaza in Manhattan.