People around the country rushed out to buy lottery tickets in late 2018 when the Mega Millions jackpot reached an enormous $1.6 billion dollars in prize money, the most in its history.
In order to increase their chances of sharing the prize money, people often pool their money to buy multiple tickets. That’s precisely what a large group of 126 Missouri nurses did.
While they didn’t win the big jackpot, they did end up with one of the smaller $10,000 prizes – one of their 126 tickets was just one number away from winning it all!
“We never thought in a million years we would win anything at all and then we came one number away from winning $1.6 billion,” said Stephanie Brinkman, who organized the lottery pool, told KMOV4 News.
After taxes, the take-home from their prize would be $7,200. While that’s still a great chunk of cash, they’d have to split it 126 ways.
When the nurses, who work in the neonatal intensive care unit (or NICU) at Missouri’s Mercy Children’s Hospital, realized they’d each get just $56 of winnings, they came up with a heartwarming plan.
Instead of each nurse taking home a small amount of cash, they decided to make a big difference by splitting the money between two co-workers who needed it the most, fellow nurse Gretchen Post and hospital neonatologist Casey Orellana.
“The majority said, ‘let’s give it to our co-workers, our family, the ones that are in biggest need’ so that’s what we decided to do,” Brinkman said.
The two recipients had just experienced devastating life events.
Post had just lost her 17-year-old son, Jack, to suicide on the same night as the Mega Millions drawing.
[If you or a loved one have thoughts of suicide and are in need of help, free and confidential support and resources are available 24/7 from the National Suicide Prevention hotline by calling 1-800-273-8255 and an online chat is available here.]
“It’s actually going to pay for Jack’s funeral which I’m very grateful for,” she said through tears.
Orenella’s husband, Phil, had been diagnosed with sarcoma cancer which had spread to his lungs. His illness forced him to stop working in July of 2018.
At the time of the lottery, his care required the neonatologist to drop half her work hours and the family – who also has four children – was worried about paying for his care.
Orenella said the gesture “touched her heart” and the call about the prize money came on the very same day that she and her husband were wondering how they were going to afford one of his medications.
Phil Orenella expressed his gratitude as well, saying:
“Certainly knowing that I’m not the only one fighting this battle, that there are people there to support me, certainly makes it easier for me.”
The lottery win brought a family of healthcare workers who deal with human frailty every day even closer together.
Their employer, Mercy Hospital, spread the news of their good deed on Twitter, punning it up by saying that when it comes to nurses, “we hit the jackpot.”
As you might imagine, kudos poured in from around the world, with many pointing out that nursing is the ultimate selfless profession.
You can click below to see a video of the nurses bestowing checks on their co-workers.
A lottery commission statement said the big winner was from South Carolina and came forwardmonths later. They opted for a one-time payment of nearly $878,000,000, the largest jackpot payout to a single winner in U.S. history. They’ve chosen – wisely, we think – to remain anonymous.
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Source: KMOV News