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School staffers win $1 million Powerball prize after playing same numbers for years

Stuart Hammer/Kentucky Lottery

(FLORENCE, Ky.) — A group of current and former staffers at Rector A. Jones Middle School in Florence, Kentucky, are celebrating this week after they played the Kentucky Powerball and won $1 million.

The group calls themselves the “Jones 30” and among them are Sharon Reynolds, Jones’ 7th-grade vice principal, and Michelle Cravens, a 7th-grade guidance counselor.

“Every person that won has walked the halls of Jones at some point in their career. Thirteen of us are still here and 17 of us are in other schools, other districts, or retired,” Reynolds explained to “Good Morning America.”

Cravens said she’s been playing the lottery with her fellow educators for the last couple of years.

“One of our [retired] math teachers was on and off playing the lottery and people would jump in and play with her and then she got it a little bit better organized and she had a group of 30 people that we all put money in,” Cravens told “GMA.” “She’s just been keeping that going for the last two, three years and she’s played the same numbers every week.”

The winning numbers were 7-38-65-66-68.

As for the winning numbers, Reynolds said “three of them were in the 60s” and then she said they “missed the Powerball by like, five digits,” but they plan on playing the lottery again and just might play with the same numbers.

Reynolds and Cravens said they were both very surprised to find out their group lottery ticket was a winner.

“Every week, she sends us a picture of our ticket in a group chat thread so we all see the ticket and know that it’s purchased before the drawing so we know it’s our ticket. And she goes, ‘I think we’ve won,’ and I was like, ‘There’s no way. You’re just messing with me because my birthday is tomorrow,'” Reynolds recalled. “And she goes, ‘No, I really think we won. I need you to double check the numbers.'”

Reynolds double-checked and then after several others learned the numbers matched up, a caravan of the Jones 30 group traveled together Tuesday evening, after school let out, to collect their winnings.

Now that they’ve won big, Cravens said she’s happy to see Jones Middle School get its turn in the spotlight.

“We have a very special population of students here,” the counselor said. “We just want everybody to know that we’re here. … I’m very happy that the world is getting to know Jones Middle School and getting to know our students and that they are getting the exposure that they deserve.”

After they divided the $1 million equally, each member of the Jones 30 received about $33,333, which after taxes, totaled about $24,000.

Cravens said she plans on paying off some debt but that some of her winnings also went to an unexpected expense that recently came up for her.

“I’ve got two small kids and we’ve got a little farm and I just randomly had a pigeon. We have a pet pigeon who had to have emergency surgery so it’s really nice because it paid for all of that,” Cravens said. “The rest of it is just going to clear a lot of my debt and just give me some room to breathe.”

With her winnings, Reynolds said she plans on giving a helping hand to each of her three daughters, one who can benefit from new car tires, another who is getting married, and a third who is currently renovating their home.

“I grew up very poor so to me, this $24,000 is a lot of money,” she said.

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