TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It started out simple with one guy and a Facebook post. Then, the fever hit. And, boy did it hit hard.
Things changed fast for Ryan McGuiness. The Tampa financial planner told News Channel 8 he put out the call to his buddies on social media to form a Powerball pool. He wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
His group went gangbusters. “We had to finally close the pool altogether last night, turning people away. It’s so crazy,” McGuiness said with a laugh.
The rapid rate of requests to be a part of this friendly financial pool was chaotic. It grew so fast, McGuiness admitted, that it became “madness, pure madness.”
The Powerball players in his pool suddenly skyrocketed to 292 people. There was only one hard and fast rule – pony up $500 to join.
The billion-dollar dream took on a life of its own for McGuiness and his friends, one that goes back several Powerball drawings and requires diligent organization. Keeping track of everything, all that money and all those numbers, is no small feat.
In fact, when folks are filled in on the history of this headline-making mission, they are a bit awestruck. Gasps are audible from those who listen to the backstory and hear the total dollar amount invested in winning the big enchilada. The pool has now reached six figures.
That’s when the printing began – 72,500 Powerball tickets churned out by a busy machine at Ybor City’s Metro Market, literally spitting out thousands at a time. There were so many, in fact, the total number of tickets had to be broken up into multiple shifts before the big drawing. The store had to buy extra paper to keep up.
“We keep coming back to pick up the tickets,” McGuiness said, chuckling. “We have so many, they keep printing!”
And, if they win? “We would split it 292 ways, which still isn’t bad. We’d each get $3 million. We’d be millionaires,” McGuiness remarked with a massive, growing grin. “I never expected our pool to get this big. We’ll see what happens,” he added.