CHARLESTON, W. Va. — Five co-workers from the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, playing the lottery as a group for the first time, became the state’s first 2015 winners of the $1 million Mega Millions prize.
Brenda Rader of South Charleston, Carla Curry of Marmet, Jordan Williams of Shrewsbury, Deborah Rutherford of St. Albans, and Carolyn Charnock of Charleston, each received their $137,000 share of the winnings at the state lottery’s headquarters Wednesday.
The group each contributed $5 for a total purchase of 25 tickets.
“We play separately, but this is the first time we’ve played as a group,” Rader said. “I don’t know, it just felt right. It was the new year, we’d never done it before.
“I had just won $2 a couple of days before that, so I felt like the iron was hot.”
Rader purchased their winning ticket—which matched five numbers from the Jan. 9 Mega Millions drawing—at One Stop #101 in South Charleston.
When their winning numbers were called, it took some time to convince everyone of the news.
“Nobody believed me,” Rader said. “They all said I was lying and being mean, and I said ‘No, I have the winning ticket!'”
“Nobody believed me. They all said I was lying and being mean, and I said ‘No, I have the winning ticket!'” — Brenda Rader of South Charleston
Their plans for the money are varied.
“I’m putting it into the bank for right now until I can figure out what to do with it,” Rader said with a laugh. “I’m old, I need Social Security.”
Williams, a December graduate of WVU Tech, plans to pay off her student loans.
“The day Brenda came and asked for the $5, I had just made my first student loan payment. So, that was pretty remarkable,” Williams said. “This next payment’s going to be the last one they get from me.”
This most recent $1 million ticket became the 14th from West Virginia since January 2014 for the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries. West Virginia sold a record 13 tickets from games worth $1 million or more during 2014, with 11 of those from the Powerball game.
While odds of winning do not change based on location, the probability of winning a prize of a million or more from these games was better in West Virginia than anywhere in the country in 2014, according to lottery officials. With a population of only 1.8 million, West Virginia produced a $1 million-plus winner per every 138,461 people in the state.