ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Fourteen Sandia National Laboratories employees who pitched in $10 each to buy 140 lottery tickets became overnight millionaires after winning the $131 million Powerball jackpot in Wednesday night's drawing.
The employees, many of whom were security guards, are the state's first jackpot winners since New Mexico joined Powerball in October 1996.
Duane Carr, one of the guards, said a co-worker called him Wednesday night with the news that the group held the winning ticket.
''I was like, oh, yeah, right,'' Carr, 43, said. ''I didn't want to get too overexcited until I went over to his house and confirmed the numbers for myself. ... Then the champagne started popping.''
The employees, who worked in the lab's security office, and their families celebrated all night and then showed up at the lottery office before the employees arrived for work.
''It's crazy. It's just unbelievable,'' said Charles Tabet, 37, who purchased the group's tickets, allowing a computer to choose the numbers. ''You just can't believe the stuff that's going on, the money, the media.''
The Sandia employees said they all come from modest backgrounds.
''This is a definitely an upgrade because we did not have this kind of money. Nobody ever dreamed of being a millionaire. But we are,'' Carr said at a press conference.
The 14 could choose a couple of pre-tax payout options - the $131 million prize in the form of a 25-year annuity or $70.3 million in cash, lottery spokeswoman Nadine Guillen, said.
Tabet said that for now at least, he intends to keep working at Sandia.
''We're not going to jump into anything,'' he said.
The winning numbers were 1, 4, 20, 27, 29 and Powerball 17.