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$1M lottery finalist from Waterloo in New Year's Eve Powerball drawing

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Powerball finalists

Rob Long, left, of Waterloo, and Shari Beenken of Titonka, are two of five nationwide finalists for a $1 million Powerball prize that will be drawn just after 11 p.m. Dec. 31, 2021, on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest.

WATERLOO — It could be an especially rockin’ New Year’s Eve for one Waterloo man — and 21 of his lottery-pool friends.

Rob Long of Waterloo is one of five finalists nationwide who are eligible to win a $1 million prize from the “First Millionaire of the Year” Powerball drawing, which will be held just after 11 p.m. Dec. 31 and announced on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” with Ryan Seacrest.

But Long says he plans to share the prize with a lottery pool he oversees with 21 others, including his brother, and current and former employees of ConAgra in Waterloo, where Long works as a warehouse associate, he told lottery officials in an interview. Though he keeps careful track of ticket purchases on a spreadsheet, he didn’t tell the others he was entering the promotion on their behalf.

“I think the biggest thing for me was the surprise on everybody’s face,” Long said.

As finalists, the group has already split a $10,000 cash prize 22 ways, or roughly $450 each. An entertainment package valued at $10,000, including a 70-inch TV, laptop computer, sound system and more, was divided among the group through a random drawing Long held at his own house.

“I put everybody’s name in the bowl,” he said. “I even got one. It was like, my luck keeps continuing.”

If Long and his group win the $1 million, that makes for around $45,454 each for 22 people, before taxes. Long said he would get his wife a newer vehicle with the money, and if there’s any left over, he’ll buy a retro Donkey Kong arcade machine.

“I’m an ‘80s guy, and I love arcade games,” Long said. “I told my wife I was always gonna get one — here’s my chance. I’m 50 years old, but I’ll still play some Donkey Kong.”

Long isn’t the only finalist from Iowa. Shari Beenken of Titonka, in north Iowa’s Kossuth County, also has a shot at the prize. It’s the first time any state has featured more than one finalist for the prize, according to officials who announced the finalists Wednesday.

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The promotion will be featured on the “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” show on ABC for the third consecutive year, according to Powerball. It’s hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Liza Koshy from Time Square in New York City, with country artist Jessie James Decker as the Powerball correspondent, according to the show’s website.

Long doesn’t remember the last time he stayed up past midnight for New Year’s Eve, but said all his lottery pool buddies are invited to join him this year.

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“We’re looking forward to it,” Long said. “It’s gonna be fun.”


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Reporter covering Waterloo, Black Hawk Co. and politics

UNI political communications/journalism grad. Alum of The Calumet (MCC), The Northern Iowan (UNI), Fergus Falls (Minn.) Daily Journal and KWWL. 4-time award-winner while at The Courier. Interested in exposing wrongdoing and holding power to account.

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