When Ronald Shuey won the lottery along with some coworkers he imagined buying a shiny new Jaguar. Sheri Charney, another winner, started planning for a new house. On October 22, 1987 17 employees of the Herman Avenue Elementary School celebrated their win with coffee, doughnuts and fruit in the teachers’ lounge. Deb Rundall was a first grade teacher and remembered the big day and said “It was surreal.” Reality set in after the group found out that the shared $1 million plus Super 7 lottery jackpot would be paid out over 25 years.
The annual $59,150.97 group payment would be reduced to $47,320.78 after taxes. The taxes amounted to $11,830.19 a 20% tax on the winnings. Each winner would take home $2,783.57 annually or $231 a month. Another winner Rebecca Hedden said “Everyone thought we were going to be millionaires. We weren’t. Nobody quit their jobs. But every October, we got our checks.” The group called themselves “The Herman Avenue Super 7teen” reminisced about their experiences at a party hosted by Hedden. On Monday the group received their final check from the lottery.
Shuey said that the group of school employees started purchasing lottery tickets in September 1986. Frank Diehl, the school’s custodian and now deceased used to collect the money and buy tickets every Tuesday. Hedden stated “Each of us would pay $5 a week, which was a lot in 1987. Each of us would pick numbers for one of the tickets.” The group hit it big with numbers picked by Connolly who is now the South Middleton School District director of special education. Connolly, who was a special education teacher in 1987, told reporters “The day I picked the winning numbers, Frank was in a hurry when he stopped by to see me during a planning period. I picked my birthday and my husband’s. Frank said, ‘Just circle anything,’ and that’s what I did. I didn’t give it another thought and I didn’t watch the drawing.”
Later that night members of the lottery syndicate started calling each other with the good news. At the time Connolly thought her friends “were just yanking my chain.” She said her husband, Tom, took the news seriously. Connolly said “Tom was all excited. He wanted to buy a boat until he found out that it wasn’t enough money.” Some of the winners had more realistic dreams. Rundall and Larry Foose bought pianos for their families. Charney said the money comes in handy for Christmas shopping. Foose stated “We didn’t become millionaires. But this money has been a nice little bonus each year.”