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Nursing home staff members win $50,000 Powerball prize

A group of 37 co-workers at Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack won a third-place Powerball prize, with a face value of $50,000. After taxes, they will each get about $800, and on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, some of them talked about their lucky day. Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

Joanna Umana almost didn’t join her colleagues in buying Powerball tickets Wednesday.

“I usually never play the lottery,” she said.

But Umana is glad she was swayed, because the 24-year-old woke up Thursday a little bit wealthier.

She and 36 of coworkers at Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack won the third place Powerball prize, valued at $50,000. They split the prize evenly, which should leave each of them with $800 after taxes, according to their own calculations.

Wednesday’s Powerball drawing made headlines for its historic $700 million jackpot. The winning ticket was sold to Mavis Wanczyk, 53, of Chicopee, Massachussets in what Powerball officials said was the largest jackpot prize won on a single ticket in the game’s history.

The Gurwin Jewish group joins several others in matching the first four numbers plus the powerball number, earning a third place prize. On Long Island, lottery officials said eight $50,000 tickets were sold. No one else who bought a ticket on Long Island has been publicly named yet, officials said.

“This is a very happy day for all of us here, especially those 37 staff,” said administrator and Chief Operating Officer Stuart Almer, who was not among the winning group.

The group pooled about $80 and one person bought 10 tickets at four locations in the area, according to Dennine Cook, public relations director for the center.

The center’s day program staff often buy tickets for large jackpots, said one of the winners Rochelle Roxas, 55, of Hauppauge.

“Any time the winnings are high, we try to include everyone,” Roxas, a day care assistant, said.

With the jackpot as high as it was, Roxas said the colleagues in charge of collecting money made an extra effort to include as many people as possible.

Umana, a recreation therapist, of Northport, initially declined. She was preparing to leave for the day Wednesday when a coworker offered her one last chance to join in and she relented.

Neither Roxas nor Umana thought they’d win anything, and neither bothered to check the numbers before coming into work Thursday morning.

“I was busy tending to someone and [a coworker] said, ‘Rochelle, we won,’” Roxas said. “I thought it was a joke. I didn’t know what to do, I know my face was pale.”

Thursday afternoon, the excitement still hadn’t worn off, both women said.

For Roxas, her $800 earnings are enough to see her son get married in Singapore, a trip she worried about financing.

Umana’s share will be going toward another semester of tuition at Suffolk Community College. She’s majoring in science and hopes to attend Stony Brook University, where she’ll study to be a pediatrician.

“I feel super excited, shocked, nervous,” Umana said. “Even if it’s not a major prize, it’s nice to share with my coworkers.”

Winning retailers

Here are the eight Long Island locations where $50,000 winning tickets were sold:

Shri Hari USA, Plandome Road, Manhasset

Commack South Stationery, Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, Commack

GMS Grocery, Front Street, Greenport

Neighborhood Country Deli, Whittier Drive, Mastic Beach

The Corner Store, Echo Avenue, Miller Place

7-Eleven, 4490 Sunrise Hwy., Oakdale

Mr. Tobacco, Singer Lane, Smithtown

Scotty’s Pub, Montauk Highway, West Sayville

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