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Pennsylvania trio claims Powerball lottery jackpot

Feb 9, 2005, 8:30 am

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Three Pittsburgh-area women who work at PNC Financial Services Group will split $14.7 million for sharing the winning ticket in the Jan. 22 Powerball drawing.

"I don't have any idea what I'm going to do with this," said Janet Bigler, of Blawnox, who works for PNC Advisors.

Bigler bought the ticket with her sister, Karen Rodgers, assistant vice president of commercial loans, and their friend, Kathleen Fitzgerald, a clerk at PNC Bank.

The women appeared at a news conference Tuesday with Gov. Ed Rendell and lottery officials.

They seemed overwhelmed by their newfound wealth and generally had little to say in response to reporters' questions.

Fitzgerald and Rodgers also said they aren't sure what they'll do with the $3.7 million each will take home after taxes.

"It's a shock. I'm still trying to digest everything," Bigler said last night, standing outside her home with her husband, Elmer.

"Dreams do come true," Elmer Bigler said.

Janet Bigler said she and her husband have no plans to retire. "We're going to try to live as normal as possible," she said.

The women had presented the ticket at lottery headquarters for verification earlier yesterday. Lottery officials say the women had first consulted with legal and financial advisers.

The winning ticket was bought at Nielsen's, a newsstand and convenience store on Liberty Avenue inside 2 PNC Plaza. The women said they played a "quick-pick" or computer-generated numbers. The winning ticket matched all five white balls, 11-23-32-33-34, and the red Powerball, 38.

Janet Bigler described herself as an "occasional" Powerball player who generally only purchases a ticket when the jackpot is high.

"Certainly everybody is hoping to win," she said.

Fitzgerald said she learned they were winners while watching television. "I saw the number on TV and wrote the numbers down," she said.

Then Fitzgerald started making phone calls to notify the others.

The women chose cash rather than the annuity value of $26.4 million. Nielsen's, owned by Howard Rosenberg and Jack Trombley, will receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

Since the news about the winning ticket being sold at Nielsen's broke Jan. 24, a rumor that PNC employees were the winners had percolated through various departments of PNC's offices. Yesterday, the confirmation that the newly minted millionaires were from their ranks was on the lips of most PNC workers chatting in the plaza's lobby.

"Everyone knew it was someone from PNC. I don't know (if) I could have kept a secret like that," said Mary Hall, of North Braddock, who worked alongside Bigler at 1 PNC Plaza a few years ago.

"I wish I were them," said Hall, who works in investment trading, "so I could retire."

The three winners were described as good workers by PNC employees who know them. Bigler is a 36-year PNC veteran.

"Everyone here at PNC is happy for them," said Patrick McMahon, a company spokesman.

This was the third winning Powerball ticket sold in Pennsylvania in six weeks. A family in Jackson, Butler County, won a $93.4 million jackpot in the Dec. 8 drawing. A Philadelphia family won $5.6 million Dec. 22.

Eight winning tickets have been sold in the state since Pennsylvania joined the multistate lottery in June 2002.

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