"I'm still up in the clouds. I can't even tell you. I'm just so excited. You dream it, you live it, you love it, and you think you're never going to do it . . . . "
Those are the words of a winner.
Susan Nichel of Eagleswood Township, N.J. hit Wednesday's enormous $448.4 million Powerball jackpot along with 15 of her co-workers at Ocean County's Department of Vehicle Services in Toms River.
"They all got to work before me and they had checked the tickets that were in our bottom drawer, because you know, nobody ever thinks they're going to win," she said. "I didn't believe them. And then my co-worker Elaine came out and shook me and said, 'We did win!'"
Nichel will continue to work for a year and a half before retiring to get her pension, then she'll fix her house that was damaged by sandy. She may share some with her large family.
"We had seven feet of water, but we were very fortunate," said Nichel. "We were very fortunate because we didn't lose our house, so that's great."
Nichel is one of several winners who live near the Little Egg Harbor Township Acme that sold the winning ticket.
Another sold in North Jersey and a third in Minnesota.
Split 16 ways, Nichel will get an estimated $3.5 million. She broke the news Thursday to close friends like Barbara Lagocki over drinks in her Eagleswood Township Crab Shack.
"The entire family was there, and she made the announcement to her family and close friends. And everybody was just enjoying the moment," said Lagocki.
Now Nichel is moving forward, with luck and friends at her side.
"Three grandchildren, and two great kids and their wives and spouses and a wonderful husband of 45 years . . . we have a lot," she said. "And I'm very thankful. Thank you, God."
Nichel and her co-workers still have yet to officially come forward and claim the prize.
Earlier, Jim Pine, the boss of those 16 employees, told Action News he couldn't be happier for the group.
"They're all on Cloud Nine, I can tell you that," Pine said.
The ticket was purchased at an Acme store on Route 9 in Little Egg Harbor Township.
"I have a great staff. For this to happen to them makes me real happy," Pine said, adding "If my kids are watching, I wasn't one of them!"
Other county employees were showing up to the garage on Friday morning, but declined to comment on the identity of the workers.
The winning ticket is worth $86 million, if taken in cash as a lump sum, but that's before federal taxes will knock the prize down to $58.3 million.
And then there's the 3 percent New Jersey taxes, bringing the prize to $56.5 million.
If the total is then split evenly among the group, each person will receive $3.5 million.
The Acme doesn't know how much money they will receive for selling the lucky ticket, but already they have announced they will donate $10,000 in gift cards to the community that was hit hard during Hurricane Sandy.
"We feel Acme has a long history of giving back to the community and this is another opportunity to give back. We're excited for the store, we're excited for the community," Acme Store Director Phil Weber said.
The other winning ticket out of New Jersey was purchased at a Super Stop & Shop store in South Brunswick.
Meanwhile, the man who bought the third winning ticket was introduced in Minnesota. Paul White, of Ham Lake, was introduced Thursday afternoon at a news conference at the Minnesota State Lottery's headquarters.
The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 05, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32.