DES MOINES, Iowa -- In workplaces across the nation, Americans are inviting their colleagues to chip in $2 for a Powerball ticket and a shared daydream.
The office lottery pool is a way to improve your odds and have a little fun with co-workers. And besides, who wants to be the only person at work the next day when everyone quits?
With $600 million on the line, this is the time to play. It's the largest-ever Powerball jackpot and the second-largest world jackpot of all time -- and it could get even bigger before Saturday's drawing.
The Multi-State Lottery Association recognizes the popularity of work pools, especially when the stakes are so high. In the past few years, lottery officials have offered tips for organizing pools.
"The appeal is they can stretch the value of their $2," said Norm Lingle, executive director of the South Dakota Lottery and chairman of the Powerball Executive Committee.
It's important to be careful, though. Workplace pools that yield big jackpots sometimes result in lawsuits, broken friendships and delayed payouts. Follow these steps to make sure you're ready to divide your winnings.
Know the rules
Lottery officials encourage pool organizers to lay down rules, put them in writing and distribute the details to all participants before the winning numbers are drawn.
Linda Golden of Gettysburg, Pa., might set the bar for how to manage an office lottery pool. An employee for more than three decades at a printing company called Quad Graphics, Golden has organized a pool for years and requires everyone to sign in, showing they contributed. She had 14 co-workers on board when the jackpot pushed past $200 million in late March.
They only won $4. However, instead of distributing what would have amounted to about 27 cents a person, Golden bought more tickets for the $1 million Powerball drawing on March 27 without telling the others. She hit the jackpot and never gave a thought to keeping the winnings all for herself. One co-worker was a woman who used a walker because of a foot problem. Another had just been to the emergency room because of a knee problem.
"I say it over and over again. That ticket we won was meant for those two ladies, and the rest of [the group] is there for the ride," she said.
After taxes, each person ended up with about $50,000.
Golden's winning ticket has only stirred more excitement in her office for Saturday's giant Powerball jackpot. She estimates that she has 26 people in her pool for this drawing.
"This time, it's starting to take up so much of my time. So many people wanted to join," she said. "It's kind of getting out of hand."