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A cool $50,000 -- split 45 ways

Winning $50,000 was the first step. Now, 45 Pierce County Highway Department employees are going to court to get separate checks for their shares.

The 45 have asked a judge to declare they each have an equal interest in the prize and each is entitled to an equal share. They are also asking the judge to direct the Lottery Division of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to pay an equal share to each of them.

Ronny Johnson, who bought the winning ticket for the group, estimates it will take another month to get the money they won in April.

"Our plan was to win the great big one, instead of this medium-size one," said Johnson Monday. But still, the payoff didn't seem too bad for the workers who had each chipped in $1 a week over a period of five or six years.

When he went to choose numbers April 22, Johnson, the department's yard man, paid extra for the Power Play option. That made the winning ticket worth $50,000 rather than $10,000.

According to a report the week of the win, Johnson said the group had won before, but never more than a few dollars. So when he checked the lottery website the morning after the drawing, he wasn't sure how to claim the prize.

He called the Eau Claire lottery office that Monday morning and was sent a packet explaining how to collect the winnings for multiple winners.

The lottery will pay the full value to a single ticket holder, but requires court involvement to issue multiple checks.

"I called down there, and they sent 45 claim forms," said Johnson. Lottery officials also sent tax forms and a sample summons and complaint, and told Johnson to call again if he needed more details. He said he called back a couple of times before completing the process.

"It got to be more than we ever thought it would be," said Johnson.

Just listing the winners' names and addresses took 2 ? pages, he said. The process involved collecting names, addresses, social security numbers and signatures for all 45, and they each had to sign in four places.

The workers didn't need to hire an attorney to complete the court paperwork, but were required to pay a $155 filing fee. Johnson said they also have to pay about $42 to have a Dane County officer serve the summons on lottery officials.

"I hope there are no other glitches," said Johnson. If the Lottery Division has no objection, a hearing won't be necessary, and the judge can simply sign the order.

Each worker is expected to net about $750 once taxes are paid.