A recent win by a group of blue collar University of Utah workers led to a $1 million dollar lottery win. The group of players credit an ornery dog named ‘Stella’ for their big win. The group has been playing the same set of numbers every month for thirteen years without success. The group of University of Utah employees work on heating and cooling university buildings. The group hit pay dirt when member Steve Hughes left his truck running to keep his dog, Stella, Warm.
Steve was at a gas station near Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, to purchase lottery tickets since Utah has no state lottery. When Steve returned to his truck he found that the miniature pinscher had locked him out of his truck by putting her paw on the manual lock button. Hughes had planned to buy the ticket elsewhere but had his girlfriend go into the store to purchase the ticket while he tried to open his truck door with a slim Jim.
Steve finally coaxed Stella to put her paws on the electronic window button in the back seat and gained entrance to his truck. What seemed like a very annoying delay turned into good news when the group of workers discovered that they had second prize in the Idaho Powerball Lottery. During a meeting at the HVAC shop at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City they announced the news. At first Hughes thought it was a joke. Richard Tison, 50, the supervisor and group member said “It was pretty exciting.”
About 25 members of the lottery group made the 5 1/2-hour trip by chartered bus to Idaho lottery headquarters in Boise Idaho to turn in the ticket and collect their checks. The group said the bus ride was raucous and had a “party bus” atmosphere. After collecting their checks the group planned to make the bus ride back home although a few members suggested that they stop at a watering hole to celebrate their win. Tison and Hughes said that after taxes they will get about $20,000. Hughes said the check was a “A nice little bonus during the year.”
Hughes said he plans to use half of his winnings to buy a four wheeler. Several group members also said they plan to buy four wheelers and a few said they will purchase drag cars. Hughes’s dog Stella didn’t make the trip to Boise but the winners made sure she got some special gifts. The group said they will continue to play the same numbers.