Electric Boat employees share Powerball jackpot

Groton — A group of 23 lucky employees from Electric Boat are sharing a $1 million Powerball jackpot after pooling their money this week and scoring a winning ticket at a Groton convenience store.

"It's not like a game-changer, but I think it'll be a nice Christmas," said Rich Slack, manager at EB's supplier quality division, who was among the group of winners.

"I was very excited. It's a good department. It's a nice reward to see the group can spread it around," he said.

Slack said he and his fellow EB employees pool their money every now and then when the Powerball jackpot gets above the $100 or $200 million mark "and we all say, 'Hmm, wouldn't it be nice ...'"

This was their lucky week. The group chipped in $2 each for Saturday's big drawing and again for Wednesday's drawing, when they purchased 23 tickets. They walked into work Thursday morning knowing no one in Connecticut hit the big money, but received a nice surprise once the tickets were checked.

"It couldn't have happened to a better group of people. It's still unbelievable," said Frank Chiaradio, who has worked at EB for 39 years.

Chiaradio, of Westerly, said he's worked with many of the people in his division his entire career and considers the win "a nice little stipend."

Another winner, Steve Lawrence of West Warwick, R.I., said he was shocked when he first heard the news. "It's one of those things you read about happening to other people," he said. "I'm probably just going to put the money in the bank. It was great fortune for all of us — a fluke thing."

Lawrence is rarely in the office because he travels a lot for work but said he happened to be around when the money was collected for the tickets.

They're still not quite sure how much they're getting as a result of the win.

"When you look at before taxes, it's $44,000 each," Slack said. "Everyone's guessing, but we think it's around $25,000 each. It's not chump change. We still did pretty good — not bad for a consolation prize."

Slack, who lives with his wife and two young daughters in Uncasville, has worked for EB for 16 years and previously took submarines out for sea trials before moving into the supplier quality department two years ago. The department ensures products coming in from suppliers meet the requirements of the shipyard.

Personally, Slack said, he doesn't know where he'll spend the money but is already considering sharing some with a worthwhile charity.

It's unclear where the winning ticket was purchased since the group went to several area convenience stores in an attempt to boost their chances.

The winning numbers were 5-25-30-58–59, with the Powerball number of 32. The winning ticket matched the first five numbers, but not the critical Powerball number.

More than 66,000 winning Powerball tickets were sold in Connecticut during the latest drawing, according to a lottery spokeswoman. Prizes ranged from $4 to $1 million.

g.smith@theday.com

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