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Powerball winners haven't come forward

Photo of Costco wholesale in Melville on the

Photo of Costco wholesale in Melville on the afternoon of June 2, 2011, where twenty employees won the lottery. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

There may be a group of new millionaires who work together at a Melville Costco, but they haven't come forward to claim their $201.9 million prize yet.

As of 3 p.m. Friday, no one had stepped forward with the winning Powerball ticket, New York Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said.

A group of about 20 employees who work at the Costco store on Route 110 in Melville hit the big time Wednesday night -- snagging the lone winning combination in the nationwide $201.9 million drawing.

It's the biggest lottery prize ever won on Long Island.

Employees at the store were tight-lipped Friday about the winners. A dozen workers who were asked said they had not won, and didn't know who the winners were.

One employee sitting on a bench outside the store during a smoke break told an inquiring customer that he was not among the winners. The worker said he did not know who won, but when the customer said the winners had probably quit already, the worker said they had not, and three or four were working Friday.

The worker had an employee identification with his first name but, like others approached by a Newsday reporter, he declined to give his full name or be interviewed.

A day earlier, a Costco official had told reporters Thursday the employees would come forward in a news conference at the store, but it was called off.

Employees on Thursday said about 100 people work at the Melville Costco, about 20 of whom are in the "lottery club."

The group was organized, they said, by an older employee who often worked as a greeter. He was said to have quit his job on the spot Thursday morning after learning he had a piece of the jackpot, employees said.

Parking lot worker Andrew Semel said Thursday the store was suddenly lighter on staff.

"If I'd won, I wouldn't be here today," he said as he gathered shopping carts. "I'd call my wife and say, 'You know what? Let's buy a house.' I'd buy a house with a big backyard, pay it all off. That's it."

Many employees said they did not know for sure who was in the club. One who said she was not, Marisol Taveras, of Copiague, said she had spoken to one winner. "She said she is going to keep working," Taveras said. "Everything is still the same."

The winning ticket, a Quick Pick, was bought at the Maulik & Chandni stationery store on West Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst. The numbers were 8, 18, 38, 46 and 56, with the Powerball 31.

A sign outside Maulik & Chandni Thursday read: "We had $200 million winner."

"It's a lot," store owner Mitul Patel told Newsday.

In New York, the selling of a winning Powerball ticket gets $10,000, a lottery spokeswoman said.

Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Powerball jackpot hadn't been hit since April 23, when one winning ticket for a $72 million first prize was sold in Indiana.

With Gary Dymski, Yamiche Alcindor, John Valenti, Patrick Whittle, Nicholas Spangler and Zachary R. Dowdy

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