Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, workers at SEPTA's offices broke out in cheers and raced through hallways to spread the good news: Forty-eight employees shared in Wednesday's jackpot-winning Powerball ticket worth $172.7 million.
"It was a party atmosphere," said Richard Maloney, director of public affairs.
The workers, most of them employed in SEPTA's purchasing department at the Market Street headquarters, stand to collect about $3.6 million each, if they take the 30-year annuity payment, or $2.5 million each if they take the one-time payout.
If they choose the annuity, it will set a Powerball record for Pennsylvania, according to lottery officials. Thursday, coincidentally, was the 23d anniversary of the Pennsylvania Lottery's largest jackpot: a Super 7 drawing that awarded $115.5 million to 14 winning tickets.
Wednesday's winning $2 ticket in the multistate lottery was sold by the Newsstand at the Gallery, across from SEPTA's 12th and Market headquarters.
The workers, members of an informal office pool, chipped in $5 each, Maloney said.
They already have decided as a group to remain anonymous, he said, but he was able to share some details: Some are relatively new to SEPTA while one person has been there 40 years. They are union and nonunion workers and range from a custodian to a senior manager. A few have already talked about retiring while others said they plan to keep their jobs.
The custodian "is a phenomenal guy . . . a wonderful employee," Maloney said.
When his coworkers heard the good news, they made an arch with their arms for him to walk under and gave him high-fives.
"We're so glad he's among the winners," he said.
Indeed, many people pouring out of the office at the end of the day seemed genuinely happy for their millionaire colleagues.
Angela Zippy, 30, who works in graphics, said she knew a few of the winners.
"It was exciting to see," she said. "A lot of people really deserve it. It's hard times right now, so I can tell you it meant a lot to them.
"It was very touching. It was a good day for SEPTA," she said.
Cynthia Griffin, who works in customer service, said it was exciting "to be so close to someone you know who won. . . . You could feel the vibe."
She wasn't in a lottery pool, but after this "our floor is going to start," she said with a laugh.
The other winner Thursday was the owner of the newsstand, who identified himself only as Mr. Kim. He will receive a $100,000 commission for selling the jackpot-winning ticket.
At the Gallery earlier in the day, Kim said he didn't believe it when a lottery official told him that he sold the winning ticket.
"Really?" he recalled saying. It wasn't until a second official confirmed the news that he realized it must be true.
When he told his wife, she said, "Good job," he recalled.
Kim, who has two teenage children, said he emigrated from South Korea in 1993 and opened the newsstand. He also owns a watch-repair kiosk next to it.
He said he wasn't sure who bought the winning ticket but said he suspected a man who spent $240 - the same amount of the SEPTA workers' pool.
One of his regulars, Mary Anne Mich, was shocked at the astounding news.
"Here? Oh, sweet Jesus," said the 83-year-old from Fairmount, as she rooted in her purse for her ticket for Thursday night's Cash 5 - and money to buy scratch-offs. "That's wonderful. I hope it brings them happiness."
Others lined up to buy tickets at the stand because, hey, you never know.
"There's always a miracle," said Keira Jones, 34 of South Philadelphia, hoping lightning would strike twice.
She and her sister, Sawn Jones, 30, from North Philadelphia, usually don't buy tickets at Kim's stand, "but we're buying here today," said Keira Jones.
Both said that if they won they would use the money to help their families.
Not Elaine Willie, 70, a retired social worker from South Philadelphia, who came by the stand after hearing the news.
"I'd move away from all the people I know, including my family, because they'd all want money," she said. "I'd help the homeless and hungry."