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Lucky 13 for lotto winners

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EDMONTON—Thirteen women working in payroll on the 13th floor of an Edmonton bank tower screamed with delight yesterday as word spread that they’d won a $50-million Lotto 6-49 jackpot—the third-largest in Canadian history.

The Western Canada Lottery Corp. would not confirm the clerks bought the single winning ticket, but did announce a news conference would be held today for “Edmonton co-workers” who won the prize.

However, Penny Stone, a veteran employee at ATB Financial’s head office, said she heard before her first coffee break that the winners had all shown up for work to learn about their lottery win.

“There was a lot of noise,” Stone, who works in ATB’s personal banking department, told reporters outside the downtown office building.

“They gathered together. They started screaming and screeching, and then they just went to get their money,” she said.

“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch.

“These women work weekends so we can get our payroll out. They’re just amazing,” Stone added. “That’s why they deserve it so much, because I know how hard they work.”

The $49,851,871 payout from Wednesday night’s draw would be worth just over $3.8 million if divided equally between 13 people.

“I heard it was a last-minute purchase,” said Stone, who bought 6-49 tickets with six other ATB workers who didn’t win any cash.

ATB spokesman Shawn Ohler referred all questions to the lottery corporation.

Lottery spokeswoman Andrea Marantz wouldn’t say much, but did explain how there are several legal hoops to jump through before an official winner can be announced.

“What we need to do is to confirm that first of all it’s the right ticket, the winning ticket, but then that it’s the right winner,” Marantz said from the corporation’s office in Winnipeg.

“There are legal releases to be done. There are statutory declarations and all kinds of legal issues that need to be taken care of,” she added.

It’s not the first big lotto win for a group of Alberta workers. Canada’s largest lottery prize was split between 17 employees at a gas plant southeast of Edmonton in the fall of 2005.

The record payout of $54.3 million was split between them—but not before they partied for 24 hours before turning in the winning ticket.

Stone said her co-workers talked to their managers before leaving for the day. Other employees were quick to joke about whether they’d get their cheques this week.

“When you start talking to people, the first thing they said is, ‘We’re not going to get paid!’

“It’s a bit of a joke, but what are you going to do when the whole payroll processing department is gone?

“I’m sure some will leave,” Stone added.

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