Two of the five national finalists for a one million dollar New Year’s Powerball prize drawing are from Iowa.
Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says it’s the third year for this promotion.
“It’s called the ‘Powerball First Millionaire of the Year’ promotion,” according to Neubauer. “And each year there have been five finalists for the prize. Iowa has never had a finalist before — and no state has ever had more than one finalist in the drawing.”
One finalist is Rob Long of Waterloo who buys tickets for a pool of his co-workers, friends, and family who call the group Lotto 22. “I work with a majority of them. We have a couple of retirees that stay with it and they keep telling me we are going to win. So, once every so often they give me a bunch of money to keep track of, and I have a nice spreadsheet,” Long says.
Shari Beenken from the small Kossuth County town of Titonka is the other finalist. Beenken and Long had to keep the news from others until today — and she says that was tough to do during the Thanksgiving holiday with her sister. She says they went to a Christmas tree farm and her sister asked her about the First Millionaire drawing and she says she told her sister she didn’t know yet.
Players had to enter non-winning tickets to get a chance at the New Year’s drawing. Long says his group didn’t know he had entered. “When I got to tell them all, I think that was probably the best part of this. Some of them got anxiety, some were shaking, some didn’t know what to think, and a couple didn’t believe me,” Long says.
They each have already won $10,000 in cash and a $10,000 home entertainment package for being finalists. Long’s group will each get around $45,000 if they win the million-dollar prize.
Beenken will get the keep the entire one million dollars if she wins. She and her husband want to get a vacation home, and she’d like some new appliances.
“Oh yeah, a new dishwasher and a new stove,” she says. Beenken says it was hard waiting to tell everyone about being a finalist, and now there is a whole month to wait before she knows if she won.
“It’s going to take forever,” she says. Long has the same feeling. “It took forever just to get to this point, a lot of thinking about it,” Long says. “We have a month to go,” Neubauer says. “Now we’ve got another month to get through this,” Long says.
They will get to find out before midnight as the announcement on ABC’s broadcast of “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve” in Times Square, New York will come in the eastern time zone — which means 11 p.m. Iowa time.
The members of the Lotto 22 group are:
From Clarksville: Scott Herrmann and Victor Herrmann
From Denver: Bruce Gonnerman
From Dunkerton: Michael Nicolaus and Nancy Smock
From Independence: Bryan Cain and Kristen Kayser
From Jesup: Ronald Kester
From La Porte City: Bruce Long
From Oelwein: Ellyn Perkins
From Plainfield: Valeria Marks
From Raymond: Randy Ruehs
From Shell Rock: Grant Clark
From Waterloo: Trish Bandfield, Mark Burke, Steven Foster, Kelvin Holmes, Rob Long, Nesffy Molina,
Mike O’Connor, Martin Van Horn, Eric Woodward.