Lottery winner makes good on 28-year-old promise, splits $22M prize with friend

This man is as good as his word.

In 1992, friends Tom Cook and Joseph Feeney promised each other they’d split their winnings should either ever win the Powerball jackpot. As the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292 million — a slimmer likelihood than getting struck by lightning or finding a pearl in an oyster shell — the western Wisconsin men hardly expected to ever get the opportunity to make good on their word.

So when Cook recently rang Feeney to say he’d bought the winning ticket for the $22 million jackpot and was fulfilling the commitment of their handshake nearly three decades prior, Feeney could hardly believe it.

“He called me, and I said, ‘Are you jerking my bobber?’ ” Feeney, an avid fisherman, responded when Cook told him the good news, the Associated Press reported.

Cook bought his winning ticket at a Synergy Coop in Menomonie, and plans to retire with the money. Feeney was already retired.

The men chose to take their winnings as a roughly $16.7 million cash payment — almost $5.7 million each after taxes. Neither has big plans for the money, and plan to use it for travel and to give themselves more time with their families.

“We can pursue what we feel comfortable with. I can’t think of a better way to retire,” said Cook.

Other recent Powerball winners include a group of six friends who call themselves the Dale’s Pub Lottery Group. The Holly Ridge, North Carolina, crew have each pitched in $6 per week to play for the last 14 years, and in March scored a $150,000 prize.

“We’ve been doing it since the lottery started in North Carolina!” group member Brenda White told Powerball. “And we’re going to keep playing!”

Now that they’ve won in the six digits, they have their eyes set on seven, and don’t plan to stop playing the lottery “’til I see that second comma,” another group member said.

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