Lottery Winners (web)

Eleven employees at Weber Bros. Hardware in Teutopolis were excited to discover they had purchased a winning Lotto ticket worth $50,000. After taxes, each will receive a check for approximately $3,000. Most of the winners are pictured above. Front row (left to right) are Gary Forcum, Diana Koester, Shawn Koester and Cheryl Meyer. Back row are Tom Weber, Jim Willenborg, Mike Henderson, Bob Orsborn and Mike Hinkle. Not pictured are Suzanne Weber and one employee that wished to remain anonymous.

By Steve Raymond

News Report Staff

Oh so close.

If only the fifth number had been a 48 instead of a 54.

That one little number was the difference between a really good winning ticket and a life-changing ticket.

Eleven employees at Weber Bros. Hardware in Teutopolis were just that one number away from becoming instant millionaires.

But everybody was still pretty happy. After all, they will soon be receiving a check for about $3,000 in the mail.

Their ticket in last week’s Lotto – purchased at Wessel’s Grocery in T-Town — matched the Power Ball and four of the five numbers.

It was the only ticket in Illinois that matched four of the numbers and the Power Ball and the odds of that happening were 1 in 919,000.

As a result, it was worth $50,000.

The Power Ball number was 6. The local ticket also matched the numbers 15-23-27-53. The fifth number on the ticket was 54. The fifth number drawn was 48.

“One more number and we’d have each received $9.1 million,” Gary Forcum quickly noted. “I already figured it up.”

Like they’ve been doing every week for the past 10 years, employees at Weber Bros. Hardware have had the opportunity to participate together. All they have to do is put $2 in an envelope and sign their name.

There have been a few weeks that nobody participated, “but the bigger it gets, the more people that play,” Diana Koester noted.

With the winning Lotto amount estimated at $145 million, 11 employees decided to make that $2 investment. As always, the envelope was placed in the company safe over the weekend.

When people got to work on Monday, Feb. 5, they asked if anybody won. The initial response was “no.” But Koester then noticed they matched the Power Ball, which was worth $4 alone.

Then they started comparing the numbers on their ticket and the numbers that had been drawn. As each number was read off, as can be expected, the excitement level grew. When they realized they had matched four numbers and the Power Ball, they quickly went to Wessel’s to have the ticket confirmed.

“I expected lights to start flashing, bells to go off and confetti to come down,” Koester said with a laugh. “But no. There was nothing. There was just a message on the machine to see an attendant.”

Wessel’s Grocery will receive 1 percent of the winnings.

Later that week, on Thursday, Mike Hinkle made the drive to the Lotto office in Fairview Heights. Before going in, he noticed the office right next door was for the IRS, which he found amusing.

There were some forms to fill out, plus he had to show them the ticket, which they scanned and then sent to Springfield for verification.

“I got nervous, though, when the lady started to talk,” Hinkle admitted. “First she said ‘congratulations.’ But then she started her next sentence with ‘I’m so sorry’ and I thought there was a problem. But she said she was sorry we were only one number off from winning the big amount.

“Then I got a receipt and some Lotto goodies and headed home. There wasn’t a whole lot involved with it.”

The state takes 30 percent out in taxes and will mail a check to each of the 11 employees within four to six weeks.

The winners were Bob Orsborn, Gary Forcum, Cheryl Meyer, Diana Koester, Mike Hinkle, Mike Henderson, Jim Willenborg, Tom Weber, Suzanne Weber, Shawn Koester and one employee that wished to remain anonymous.

Some haven’t decided what they’re going to do with their winnings. Some are planning to take a trip and one jokingly said they were going to bury it in their backyard.

But Cheryl Meyer probably summed it up the best.

“This wasn’t a bad return for only spending $2.”