Minn. ‘Lunch Ladies’ Win $95 Million Lottery Jackpot

By Darcia Harris Bowman — November 05, 2003 1 min read

Millionaires were cooking in the kitchens of the Holdingford, Minn., school district last week. Fifteen millionaires, to be exact.

A 16th millionaire was performing custodial duties.

They weren’t always rich. The lunch ladies and janitor, who together call themselves the “Happy Huskers” after the district’s mascot, woke up on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 26, to discover that they collectively held a lottery ticket worth $95 million.

Despite their newfound wealth, members of the group reported to work as usual the next morning, said Roger Carlson, the superintendent of the 1,100- student district in central Minnesota. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people,” he said.

Though two of the winners announced intentions to retire last week, Mr. Carlson said the other 14 were sticking to the status quo for now. “They just continue to do their jobs,” he said.

The 16 employees had a long-standing practice of each contributing 25 cents from every paycheck for Powerball tickets. The oldest member of the group, Donna Lange, always posted the tickets on a school bulletin board before the drawings.

Ms. Lange told lottery officials that when she checked the winning numbers at home, she immediately called group member Karen Overman, the nutritional-services manager.

“At first, I didn’t believe her,” Ms. Overman said in a Minnesota State Lottery press release. “As I thought about it, I realized, ‘It’s 7 a.m. on Sunday morning and the clocks have been turned back. She’s serious about it.’”—DARCIA HARRIS BOWMAN