The famous lunch ladies from Holdingford, who shared a $95.4 million jackpot in October of 2003, were inspiration to the lunch ladies at Buffalo High School. That's when they started pooling their money to buy Powerball tickets. "If it could happen to them, it could happen to us," said group member Lynnette Neumann.
The group says they don't pool their money to buy Powerball tickets until the jackpot gets really big. Saturday's estimated $900 million jackpot fit the bill.
Arlene Nelson, who purchased the winning ticket at SuperAmerica, located at 370 Central Ave. E. in St. Michael, discovered the win Saturday evening after the drawing. "I yelled at my husband-'We won! We won!'" but had to quickly clarify that it wasn't the two of them who won but the lunch ladies. Nelson said it was too late to call and break the news to the others, so she waited until Sunday afternoon to tell Neumann. "I couldn't stop laughing," Neumann recalled. "I kept saying, 'Are you kidding me?'"
Neumann and Nelson shared the news with the rest of the group members on Monday. The lunch ladies all agreed that there was a lot of shock, screaming, tears and hugs going around.
"We were excited but it was business as usual," said Cheryl Philippi. "The kids needed to eat!"
After serving lunch on Jan. 12, all 16 group members came to the Lottery's headquarters in Roseville, still wearing their uniforms, to claim the prize.
"We were given a healthy serving of greens today," said Kim Willmert. Each group member claimed $3,125 and received a check for a little over $2,000 after the required tax withholding.
The winners are: Arlene Nelson of Albertville; Nancy Allen, Linda Anderson, Lisa Dohrmann, Karen Gannon, Lisa Johnson, Kathryn Lohse, Lynnette Neumann, Sara Opeiw, Beverly Wahlenberg and Kim Willmert, all of Buffalo; Donna Jannette of Monticello; Patricia Hughes of Montrose; Sandra Meyer of Rogers; Lonna Sonenstahl of St. Michael; and Cheryl Philippi of South Haven.
The Buffalo High School Lunch Ladies were one of ten $50,000 Powerball winners from the Jan. 9, 2016 drawing.
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