Nearly 30 years ago, long-term buddies Tom Cook and Joseph Feeney shook hands and vowed to split any future lottery winnings.
It was 1992, and they each went on to play weekly.
This month, Cook was able to make good on their promise – with half of a $22 million Powerball win on a ticket he bought in June at Synergy Coop in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
“It was quite an experience when I read those first three numbers and kind of froze, and handed them to her,” Cook said, gesturing toward his wife, who was on hand. “And she froze.”
When Cook called avid fisherman Feeney with the news, the latter didn’t quite believe it, either, he told Wisconsin Lottery.
“He called me and I said, ‘Are you jerking my bobber?’ " Feeney said. “We said whenever the big winner comes we were gonna split it. So we buy every week, not really thinking it would happen.”
Feeney is a retired firefighter, but Cook took the opportunity to say sayonara to the working life, gave two weeks’ notice, and retired from his job.
They chose the cash option of approximately $16.7 million and took home about $5.7 million each after taxes, the Wisconsin Lottery Commission said.
It’s not the first time old friends have made good on a Powerball promise. In 2016, family friends Daniel Golio shared part of his jackpot with Laura Bianco right here in New York City, albeit with a slightly smaller prize.
The Wisconsin winners each plan to travel more and up their family time.
“I have grandchildren, great grandchildren,” Cook said. “I can’t think of a better way to retire.”
And, of course, they’ll keep playing.
“I bought two tickets since,” Cook said. “I won the Powerball and right away bought them. I mean, what can I lose?”
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