In late 2018, the country was abuzz with news that the Mega Millions jackpot had reached an all-time high of $1.6 billion dollars in prize money.
In order to increase their chances of winning, people often pool their money to buy big piles of tickets. And that’s precisely what a large group of Missouri nurses did.
While they didn’t win the big jackpot, the 126 nurses did end up with one of the smaller $10,000 prizes – one of their 126 tickets was just one number away from winning it all!
“We never thought in a million years we would win anything at all and then we came one number away from winning $1.6 billion,” said Stephanie Brinkman, who organized the lottery pool, told KMOV4 News.
As you know, lottery winnings are taxed, so after the nurses took that into account, they realized that splitting the leftover money ($7,200) 126 ways meant they’d each get $56.
While that’s still a great chunk of cash to be given out of the blue, the nurses, who work in the neonatal intensive care unit (or NICU) at Missouri’s Mercy Children’s Hospital, came up with a heartwarming plan.
Instead of each nurse taking home a small amount of cash, they decided to split the money between two co-workers who needed it the most.
Those chosen were fellow nurse Gretchen Post and hospital neonatologist Casey Orellana.
“The majority said, ‘let’s give it to our co-workers, our family, the ones that are in biggest need’ so that’s what we decided to do,” Brinkman said.
Both recipients had just experienced devastating life events.
Post had just lost her 17-year-old son, Jack, to suicide on the same night as the Mega Millions drawing.
[If you or a loved one have thoughts of suicide and are in need of help, free and confidential support and resources are available 24/7 from the National Suicide Prevention hotline by calling 1-800-273-8255 and an online chat is available here.]
“It’s actually going to pay for Jack’s funeral which I’m very grateful for,” she said of the donation through tears.
Meanwhile, Orenella’s husband, Phil, had recently been diagnosed with sarcoma cancer which had spread to his lungs. His illness had forced him to stop working in July of 2018.
At the time of the lottery, his care required the neonatologist to cut her work hours in half and the couple – who also has four children – was worried about how they would pay for his care.
Orenella said the gesture “touched her heart” and the call about the prize money came on the very same day that she and her husband were wondering how they were going to afford a new medication. He said:
“Certainly knowing that I’m not the only one fighting this battle, that there are people there to support me, certainly makes it easier for me.”
The lottery win brought a family of healthcare workers who deal with human frailty every day closer together and their employer, Mercy Hospital, spread the news of their good deed on Twitter, even punning it up by saying that when it comes to nurses, “we hit the jackpot.”
Kudos for the good deed poured in from around the world, with many pointing out that nursing is the ultimate selfless profession.
Scroll down below to see a video of the nurses bestowing checks on their co-workers.
The lottery commission said the big winner was from South Carolina and came forward months later but chose (wisely!) to remain anonymous, taking a one-time payment of nearly $878,000,000, the largest jackpot payout to a single winner in U.S. history.
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Source: KMOV News