LANSING, January 31, 1997 — Facing unemployment as their plant prepares to close its doors this summer, 17 employees of Jackson-based Kellogg Industries did the obvious: they formed a lottery club and hoped for the best!

After only two weeks of buying tickets together, the “Friends Forever” lottery club’s prayers were answered. The club held the $45.6 million winning Big Game ticket that matched all six numbers in the January 24, drawing: 12, 17, 27, 30, 39, and the Big Money Ball number was 7.

Members of the “Friends Forever” lottery club today claimed the largest Big Game jackpot since the game’s inception!

“This is just an incredible story,” said Michigan Lottery Commissioner Bill Martin. “When you see such a deserving group of people win a prize like this, it’s terrific. I’ve never seen so many excited people in one room!”

“I’m just glad the ticket is out of my hands!” said club representative Shirley Johnson. “I thank the Lord he let us win, and his work is just begun for us.”

“I feel truly blessed,” said club member Debra Hartman. “I can think of no other way to say thanks except to share it and give something back.”

The club received its first installment of $2,280,000, before taxes, to be followed by 19 annual installments of $2,280,000. That amounts to $134,117.65 annually to each club member for 20 years.

Club members had a variety of plans for their winnings, including sharing with family, buying new homes, continuing education and taking vacations.

The winning “easy pick” ticket was purchased at Buddy’s Mini Mart #18, 105 E. McDevitt Ave., in Vandercook Lake.

“I was just happy that it was a local group that won the jackpot,” said Heather Howard, manager at Buddy’s Mini Mart. “It’s nice that something like this happened to a small town, and that people who needed it won.”

Members of the Friends Forever lottery club include:

  • Naomi Spooner, Pleasant Lake, age 50
  • Lillie Dangler, Jackson, age 40
  • Colette Lyons, Horton, age 46
  • Lewanda Lincoln, Jackson, age 43
  • Richard Woods, Brooklyn, age 43
  • Debra Hartman, Jackson, age 42
  • Angelene Robinson, Jackson, age 27
  • Sandra Fall, Jackson, age 44
  • Katherine Worden, Jackson, age 35
  • Kristine Snyder, Horton, age 46
  • Dolores Jones, Jackson, age 43
  • Vickie Ward, Jackson, age 43
  • Helen Dwight, Onondaga, age 46
  • Loretta M. Boulton, Jackson, age 47
  • Jill D. Nading, Jackson, age 47
  • Rosann Woodard, Jackson, age 43
  • Shirley A. Johnson, Michigan Center, age 53

The Big Game offers nine ways to win cash prizes. Players pay $1 for each play, and choose five numbers from 1 to 50, as well as one additional number from 1 to 25.

Drawings for The Big Game are held on Fridays at 11 p.m. (Eastern) and are broadcast on Superstation WGN-TV in Chicago, and on a statewide network in Michigan.

The first Big Game jackpot ticket sold in Chesterfield Township for the September 6 drawing is worth $5 million and is still unclaimed.

The Big Game jackpot for tonight (January 31) is $5 MILLION.

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