UPDATE: Tampa's now-famous Powerball megapool didn't land a jackpot ticket, and the organizers are pretty sure they didn't match five numbers for $1 million. (They're still combing through their 73,000 tickets.)
But they certainly won something by matching four or fewer numbers on hundreds of tickets.
Our original story appears below:
TAMPA — There are plenty of Powerball pools out there full of dreamers hoping their combined resources will land them a ticket to unimaginable wealth.
And then there is the monster that Ryan McGuinness and Shane Krugman created with hopes of waking up this morning millions of dollars richer.
By Wednesday afternoon, about six hours before the drawing for the record-breaking $1.5 billion jackpot, the Tampa men had organized a pool with about 270 participants who forked over at least $500 each. That's $146,000, which bought about 73,000 $2 tickets.
The result: The group's odds of winning were just over 1 in 4,000. By comparison, the odds of any single Powerball ticket winning were 1 in 292.2 million.
"While it's still a longshot, it's reasonable," said McGuinness, a 32-year-old partner in a Tampa realty investment firm.
He started the first pool back when the jackpot was a mere $400 million, and enough people joined to buy $15,000 worth of tickets. In the next round, the group chipped in about $19,000.
"This last round is when everything went nuts," he said.
The men, who have been buddies for years, used Facebook to solicit contributions from friends, friends of friends or business associates. Most of the hopefuls are local but they also span the globe, with participants from Croatia, Siberia, London and Israel, Krugman said.
"It's just kind of mind-blowing," said the 33-year-old jewelry wholesaler. "At different points we were like, should we cap it? But the more people, the more chances, so it would be foolish not to take their money."
On Wednesday, the men said they had spent 10 to 12 hours a day since Sunday buying tickets and posting updates on a private Facebook page. Each ticket was being scanned and the image posted on the page.
Each $500 contribution was worth one "unit" in the pool, so someone who contributed $1,000, for example, would get a double share from the total. The roughly 270 participants purchased about 290 units. McGuinness spent $1,500. Krugman kicked in $2,000.
So what was the potential payout?
If they won, the group planned to take the lump sum worth $930 million. After federal taxes, that's about $562 million. Since Florida doesn't have personal income taxes, that makes each unit worth about $1.9 million.
"$900 million is great if you got there by yourself, but $2 million is great, too," said Mike Chen, 28, a Tampa auto dealership owner who contributed $500.
The men purchased all the tickets at the Metro Market on Palm Avenue in Ybor City. The store is owned by Sam Samhoury, whose son Mo contributed $500 for the pool.
The store spent hours printing the tickets and scanning them for winners, but there was a payoff for that effort: The store gets a 5 percent commission on each Powerball ticket sold and a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
"It's exciting," Mo Samhoury said. "It's amazing these guys were able to put together this kind of pool and have this many people trust them."
Some winning lottery pools have devolved into ugly battles, but Chen said he's not worried. He has done business with McGuinness and Krugman for years.
"I think that's why they were able to get investments from so many people, because of the level of trust people have in them," he said.
Beyond increasing their chances for a prize, there's another benefit to a pool of this size, Krugman said.
"The coolest thing," he said, "is everybody we hang out with would instantly be millionaires, so that would be pretty fun."
Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.