Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 7 News List

US workers split record lotto win


A Vietnamese refugee bought the ticket that claimed the biggest US lottery win ever recorded at a whopping US$365 million.

Dung Tran, 34, will share his winnings with seven co-workers from the Lincoln, Nebraska meat-processing plant, where he has worked since arriving in the US 16 years ago.

Tran was one of three winners who continued to go to work after they learned on Saturday night that they had won the lottery.

But like most in his group, he said he did not plan on working much longer.

"I've been working for 16 years. Every day I had to go to work. And I bought the lottery to try to make more money," Tran said at a press conference.

His plans now were to "stop working. Stay with my wife and my kid and play a little again."

The eight winners chose to take a cash option of US$177.3 million instead of getting the full US$365 million paid in 30 annual installments. They will each receive about US$15.5 million after state and federal taxes are withheld.

Quan Dao worked in sanitation for 15 years at the plant and is not sure yet whether he will use his winnings to take early retirement. But the 56-year-old worker is sure that he will be sending money home to his family in Vietnam, which he left in 1988.

He has no plans of leaving the US, saying with a grin, "I come [came] here to be free. Great country."

In a lively press conference often interrupted by applause, laughter and a crying baby, the winners struggled to explain what it felt like to become overnight millionaires.

"It's still a blur, we still think we're going to wake up from a dream," said Chasity Rutjens, 29, the only woman in the group.

"I always think about jeeze, what would it be like if I didn't have to work again and wonder what I'd do. It's a lot different when it happens. We'll see how it works out," she said.

Alain Maboussou, 26, a refugee from the Congo, said he was going to use the money to go back to school and finish a business degree so he can open his own business.

"All of the money I mean -- it's a bunch of money. I have to sit down with friends and parents. Try to figure things out," he said.

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