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10 Iowa Co-Workers Split $50,000 Powerball Prize

'One Link Short' Was 1 of 2 Hiawatha Groups to Win Big on Wednesday

One Link Short Office Pool

CLIVE, Iowa — A group of 10 co-workers from a Hiawatha manufacturer has claimed a $50,000 prize from Wednesday's huge Powerball® drawing.

One of the tickets that the group bought in its office pool was just one number away from having at least a share of that night's $1.248 billion jackpot.

"It's kind of surreal," said Tim Merges, a member of the group who call themselves One Link Short. "You hear stories of people winning it, but it's never really somebody you know. But a group of us at work, we put in and it paid off because we won $50,000."

Members of the group claimed their prize Friday at the lottery's Cedar Rapids regional office. Coincidentally, their winning ticket was one of two purchased in Hiawatha to win $50,000 in Wednesday's Powerball drawing. The other $50,000 prize, won by a group of 21 employees at a Hiawatha engineering firm, was claimed Thursday.

Merges, 38, works at RUD Chain in Hiawatha, a company that produces chains for tires. He said that he and his co-workers occasionally buy lottery tickets together when the jackpot gets really starts to climb.

A member of the group bought Powerball tickets at multiple stores in Hiawatha, then scanned the tickets for and sent them to each member before Wednesday's drawing. The winning ticket was purchased at Kwik Star, 1800 Blairs Ferry Road NE in Hiawatha.

One of the group's tickets matched four of the five white balls and the Powerball in Wednesday's drawing to win a $50,000 prize. The winning numbers in that night's drawing were 2-11-22-35-60 and Powerball 23. The Power Play® number was 2.

No one won the jackpot that night, so it has climbed to a world-record estimate of $1.6 billion annuity, $782.4 million cash option, for Saturday's drawing, surpassing the previous record of $1.586 billion, which was won in January 2016.

Merges said the morning after the drawing, he pulled into work and began to scan each ticket with the Iowa Lottery mobile app. The last ticket he scanned was the big winner.

"You get used to seeing, $4, $5, whatever, just little amounts, and then you see all those zeros and it's like, 'Wow!'" he said. "You kind of get excited and nervous, and you want to tell everyone."

Merges texted a few members of the group, but they refused to believe him until he sent a screenshot showing the prize amount.

"It was kind of fun. As everyone kind of funneled in, we called people that were out and about and let them know that we won," Merges said. "We put them on speaker phone and no one believed us."

Merges said he hasn't given much thought to what he'll do with his portion of the winnings. But the group is eying Saturday's record Powerball drawing.

"We already got everyone to put in another $10," he said. "We're excited to see if we can win it big."

Players in $2 Powerball choose their first five numbers from a pool of 69, and another number – called the Powerball – from a separate pool of 26. The Power Play option is available for an extra $1 per play.

Since getting its start in April 1992 in 15 states with jackpots that started at a guaranteed $2 million, Powerball has grown into one of the world's biggest and most recognizable lottery games. Today Powerball is played by 48 lotteries across the country with drawings at 9:59 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays

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