TAMPA — What do you do after plunking down $146,000 for Powerball tickets and win just a fraction of that?
Let it ride, of course.
The two Tampa men who organized a now-famous Powerball pool of about 270 participants who bought 73,500 tickets for Wednesday's record-breaking $1.6 billion jackpot were still tallying their tickets Thursday but said they will spend whatever winnings they got on more tickets for the pool.
"We'll roll (the winnings) into new tickets for the next jackpot and roll until we bust," said Ryan McGuinness, a 33-year-old realty investment firm owner who organized the pool with friend Shane Krugman.
The pair organized the pool on Facebook to improve their odds and had friends, friends of friends and business associates contribute at least $500. Some, like Krugman and McGuinness, contributed multiples of $500 which would have increased their take if one of the tickets won.
They bought all of the tickets from the Metro Market in Ybor City. By Thursday morning, the men knew they hadn't won the jackpot or one of the $1 million prizes. There were 11 of those in Florida, including one in Seminole and one in Zephyrhills, and a $2 million winner in Lake Mary.
But with 73,500 tickets, the small prizes from matching one, two, three or four balls can add up to a significant sum. In the first round, the pool bought about $16,000 worth of tickets and won $1,615. They plunked down $19,000 worth in the second round and won $1,924.
If that trend holds, they'll glean $15,000 in winnings this time around. The owner of the Metro Market was busy Thursday feeding tickets into the machine. The men expected to have their total winnings late Thursday or Friday.
Krugman said they might play the Florida Lotto next, which has odds of 1 in about 29 million compared to Powerball's 1 in 292.2 million. The jackpot for the Lotto stood at $33 million Thursday. The Powerball jackpot was $40 million.
The story of the massive pool made international headlines and attracted some critics who wondered why someone would spend $500 on the lottery.
Pool participants like Jason Nicholas brushed off the haters. The entertainment and chance at a big prize were worth it, said Nicholas, a partner in a Tampa construction company.
"Those are people who probably don't have the money to spend and shouldn't be playing the lottery," said Nicholas, 32. "We've been fortunate enough to have the disposable income and it's something we like to do. Given the chance, we'll do it all over again."
But there were other benefits, too.
Most pool participants are local but many didn't know each other. Now they're becoming friends on Facebook and some met in person for the first time at a Powerball drawing watch party at Ducky's Sports Lounge in Tampa.
"With my circle of friends and Ryan's circle of friends, we've just merged two big groups of people," Krugman said.
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.