A group of federal disaster workers, used to helping others facing misfortune, basked in their own good fortune Wednesday as they claimed a $10 million Powerball jackpot.
Gov. Joe Manchin presented individual checks to 14 of the 15 Federal Emergency Management Agency workers after one, Debbie Bucher of Winchester, Va., claimed the prize for all. Three workers are from West Virginia, and the rest are from Virginia.
Only one person can claim a lottery prize under West Virginia Lottery regulations.
"We truly are a blessed state," Manchin said. "When I shook their hands, I shook a little extra to see if any [luck] would rub off."
Paul Whittemore of Winchester bought the winning ticket for the June 29 drawing at a convenience store in Charles Town, W.Va.
Whittemore chose to stay at work Wednesday to help with relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Dennis.
"Paul is our man," Bucher said. "Believe it or not, Paul and I had a hell of a birthday."
Both were born on July 4.
Bucher carried a small wolf doll that symbolized her FEMA team, the Wolf PAC (Personalizing Applicant Care), which several workers described as a family.
The workers have been playing the lottery together for about five years, Bucher said.
Lottery spokeswoman Nancy Bulla said the workers chose the lump-sum cash option -- $5.8 million before taxes that include a 25 percent cut for the federal government and 6.5 percent in state taxes for the West Virginians. The Virginia residents will settle their tax obligation in that state at the end of the tax year, Bulla said.
The winning numbers were 3, 8, 22, 42, 49 and Powerball 39.