CLOVER -- Five numbers brought smiles to the faces of 49 employees at Huffman Corp. last week -- along with a six-digit check.
The employees pooled their money to buy S.C. Education Lottery tickets and shared the $200,000 they won in the March 12 Powerball drawing. Their winning ticket was purchased at the Piggly Wiggly on Main Street in Clover.
They were only one number away from winning the jackpot of $230 million.
"If we had hit the Powerball, you would have come to an empty building," said Bobbi Killian, operation secretary at the company that makes high precision machine tool systems.
The employees' system is simple. For the last six years, when the lottery jackpot gets over $100 million, they pass around a sheet for people to sign if they want to put in $5 to buy tickets. This is the first time the employees have won any amount worth dividing in all the years they've been doing it. In the past, the small winnings have been put back into the pot to buy more tickets. After taking out the taxes, they were each left with about $2,775.
"When they told me, I opened my window and hollered 'Ye haw!'" Killian said.
Lottery staff members were at the Clover company Thursday afternoon to present them with a check.
Steve Moss couldn't believe they actually won this time, he said.
"I thought they were telling me a lie until I actually saw the numbers, and, yeah, we had won," he said. "What a joy hit us then. Even though we had to divide it up, it's still a good bit of money -- and unexpected money, too."
His family didn't really believe him until he brought home the check. He's got a photocopy of it hanging in his house now as proof of his good fortune.
All the employees have little things they plan to do with their share, Moss said. Some want to pay off some debt, and others plan to take a vacation. He's planning to invest it and see if he can make a little more off it.
Mike Badger double-checked the numbers before he made any plans for his money.
"I had to make sure before I told my wife," he said.
The money is now sitting in his bank, he said.
"We'll have plans," he said. "We've been meaning to go on a little vacation."
The workers plan to continue playing the lottery -- and they've got a lot more people at work signing up now, Badger said.
"If we'd have hit one more number, we'd all be millionaires, and you just think about 49 millionaires, all in this area," Moss said.
That one ball didn't roll in their favor, but it's left them with some extra cash in their pocket and a story to tell.
"We're not getting rich off this thing," John Longo said, "But it's fun to play and actually win something instead of a couple dollars here and there."