The "lucky 13" employees of ATB Financial who worked on the 13th floor of their downtown Edmonton office tower spoke about winning Wednesday's $49.8-million Lotto 6/49 jackpot at a lively news conference Friday afternoon.
"It's overwhelming," Pat Podridske said of the win. "We're all actually overwhelmed, but we're very excited, and actually, we're very thankful as well."
The 11 women and two men, who all work in the bank's human resources operations department, will split a jackpot that is the third-largest in Canadian lottery history.
The news conference, which was attended by cheering friends, family members and co-workers of the 13 winners, was held at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, just a couple of blocks from the ATB Financial headquarters.
The ticket was a last-minute purchase, said Cheryl Chrapko.
"We just said, 'Who has two bucks?' We put the two bucks in … Pat and I went and got the ticket, and this is the group," she said.
Sara Gabriel almost didn't put in her $2.
"But right at the last second, I just had a strong feeling to put it in," Gabriel said. "I'm pretty happy I did."
The winning ticket was purchased at the International News Outlet at the nearby Edmonton City Centre Mall. About five of the 13 coworkers called each other to share news of the win after the draw on Wednesday. The rest learned about it at work the next morning.
Some of the employees said they would pay off debts and mortgages and then take some time to figure out what to do with the money. Others joked about buying an island or lots of shoes.
For Everard Steadman, the money will help fulfill a dream.
"Always wanted to be a writer — novels, screenplays. This win just happens to put that on the fast track," he said.
The winners are: Tanya Bevz, Laurie Brown, Nannet Coulter, Carmina Cruz, Abbas Mohamed, Cheryl Chrapko, Patricia Podridske, Carol Tripp, Elizabeth Eddington, Emma MacEachern, Sara Gabriel, Everard Steadman and Irene Tkaczuk.
"These are a really dedicated group of employees," said lottery spokeswoman Lynn Hutchings-Mah. "I don't know what I'd be doing the day after I won millions. These guys were at work this morning."
The largest jackpot, worth $54 million, was won in 2005 by 17 workers at an oil and gas company near Camrose, Alta.