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Philadelphia transit workers hit $172.7 million jackpot

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Cheers and songs broke out at the Philadelphia's transit agency offices on Thursday when 48 employees learned they had literally hit the jackpot - the $172.7 million Powerball lottery prize.

Divided equally, the group of administrative employees of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority would each get more than $2.2 million, minus taxes, if they choose a one-time cash payment.

"I know that when one of the winners came to the particular floor that I'm on, there were songs of 'For he's a jolly good fellow,' and a lot of clapping and hugs," said Jerri Williams, director of media relations for the agency.

The winners all worked at the Center City headquarters of the authority, and bought their winning ticket at one of the city's biggest commuter train stations across the street from their office. They range from secretaries to managers.

Williams said word of the win started spreading shortly after 2 p.m. when one of the members of the lottery pool checked the numbers. "It was very exciting," Williams said. "We're very happy for them. It couldn't have been a nicer group of people."

For now, it's also an anonymous group of people. Williams said the pool members do not want their names revealed.

A Powerball spokeswoman confirmed there was only one winning ticket, but said the identity of the winner had not yet been verified. The Powerball website said the winning ticket was from Pennsylvania.

Williams said the pool would typically buy lottery tickets when the jackpots rose to a certain level.

"I hear one of the guys has three kids just coming out of college," Williams said. "And he definitely said it's nice to know the tuition bills will be paid. He was pretty happy about that."

"I think he's planning to continue working, but at least as far as college and weddings, he doesn't have to worry about that," she said.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)

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