Workers around the country contributed to office pools for the more than $1 billion spent to cash in on the recent $656 million mega lottery. I pitched in $5 in ours, thinking all along I was jinxing the pool since I never win anything, but didn't want to be left out of a big payday if the pool won.
Well, ours didn't. Not even $1. What a turnoff.
But a group of 17 workers at Urban Dealight in Oklahoma City almost hit it big. They missed the jackpot by one digit on the fourth number — instead of 38 theirs was 37. Still, the workers won $10,003 from their $250 pool. Individually, winnings amount to $80 to $840.
Everyone the day before the drawing was talking about what they would do if they won, but Chief Operating Officer Ryan Marlen said everyone promised they would come back to work (I promised, too). But Marlen also wanted to avoid any scenario where someone would claim they were cheated, so he built a spread sheet showing everyone's contribution.
But that wasn't enough.
“We created a contract and had dual signatures on every person,” he said. “I wanted to make sure everyone knows exactly what they had in it.”
Most employees get so caught up in mega lottery hype with dreams of improbabilities dancing in their head that they don't even consider how ugly things could get when that much money is
Marlen's action was smart thinking, said attorney Charlie Plumb. He discourages workplace pools, but says they are fine, as long as contributions are nominal and there's little risk.
But when the size of the prize and number of participants grow and the complexity of the competition increases, a workplace pool could become problematic.
“You always run the risk of someone claiming unfairness or not understanding what the rules were,” Plumb said. “Any time you have an exchange of money and some risk, and the focal point is the workplace, it could be a recipe for problems.
“Just be careful, particularly when a lot of people are involved and a lot of money is at risk.”
The Urban Dealight group collected their check Wednesday.
Marlen said a pool probably will get fired up again when the jackpot hits $100 million.
And I'll probably jinx our pool again, but only if the prize is at least $656 million.