It is the number of people in this lucky group of local lotto winners. Ironically, it is also the magic number they missed that could have won them millions.
Just two digits shy from the MEGA number and they would have each walked away with close to half a million dollars. Instead they matched five of the six drawn Super Lotto Plus numbers from the Sept. 8 drawing, earning the group of more than two dozen ABC Unified School District Transportation Department staffers a cool $60,349.
Not bad for a bunch who has pooled their money together four times a week for the last five years. Before last month's winning ticket, the biggest win they had to boast was $20, according to school bus driver, Manuel Concepcion, who collects the funds and purchases the tickets each week.
"Most of the time it's always the same 27 people, but now more people want to get in on it ... because we're lucky," Concepcion joked.
That week in September, the bus driver followed his usual routine of picking different locations to buy the tickets.
"I usually go around the area and that particular day I went to buy the tickets at the donut shop at Pioneer and Del Amo boulevards by Ralphs (The Donut Palace in Lakewood) for the first time," Concepcion said. As usual he opted for quick picks.
"I actually don’t remember the winning numbers, all I remember is that number 27 is the one we missed," Concepcion said.
The numbers on their ticket included: 4, 6, 22, 29, 47 and MEGA number 25. If they had the correct MEGA number -- 27 -- the group would have raked in a $19 million jackpot, which would have equated to roughly $440,000 each after taxes. Instead they won more than $60,000, a split of $1,676 per person.Want more local news from Patch? Make sure to: Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook | Sign up for our newsletter | Blog for us
Spreading the Good News
And while he bought the winning stub, Concepcion wasn't the first to learn of the big win. It was actually fellow bus driver and longtime Artesia resident, Cecilia Storm who discovered they had a winning combination.
"I had just gotten out of the shower the night of the drawing and I was getting ready to go to bed but thought 'let me just check the numbers and see if we got anything'," Storm said. " When I looked at our tickets (copies of which are sent to the entire group each week), I saw five numbers in a row."
"I looked again and started screaming -- my fiancé was in the garage and even he could hear me," she said. "It was past midnight and I didn't know who was in the pool, so I sent my daughter and my best friend a text and only my best friend answered. After that, I didn't know what else to do so I put it on Facebook. The whole time I was thinking, 'Is anyone else awake that can share this moment with me'?"
That following Monday, there were plenty of smiles shared at the district's Transportation Department office in Artesia as news of the big win spread.
"It was pretty exciting that following week, everyone was happy," Concepcion said.
For ABCUSD transportataion supervisor, John Eddy, the win was a longtime coming.
"Woo hoo, it's about time!" he chuckled. "I finally made my money back after all those lotteries we've been putting our money into."
Celebrating the Win Together
The group celebrated the big win a few weeks ago with a pizza party and potluck lunch for the entire department, highlighted by the distribution of their winning shares and of course, a delicious homemade cake made by bus driver Becky Duda designed after the winning ticket.
Joking aside, Eddy said he was glad to win with such a good group of fellow employees, "It's a great group to win with, now I wish we could have won a little bit more maybe we could have had a bigger party or something," he said. "But we're all still playing, so there's always a chance to win more!"
Simple Plans for the Winners
When asked what some of the winners plan to do with their money, the answers varied from putting into the bank until Christmas, purchasing trees to landscape the home, paying off credit card bills, to buying a brand new stove.
And for bus driver Sharon Van Aalsburg, the money will be probably spent on sprucing up her car, "I have no plans yet, but I will probably get the windows to my car tinted."
"You know that's only about $100, right?" another bus driver chimed in and laughed. "What else are you going to do?"
While the big win has been a nice addition to each of their bank accounts, the group still has their eyes set on one day winning it all.
"It's funny, last year we talked about possibly winning and how we would split the money -- now it happened," Concepcion said. "So now we’re talking about having a bigger party when we hit the jackpot. Maybe we'll all go on a weekend cruise or a big trip ... if we finally hit the 'Big One'."