Iowa Has Two Chances In Powerball First Millionaire Drawing

Written By Russ Mitchell on December 2, 2021

Somone’s going to have a great start to 2022 thanks to the Powerball “First Millionaire of the Year” promotion.

And odds are twice as good that an Iowa lotto customer will pick up the $1 million win.

The Iowa Lottery on Wednesday confirmed that the state has two of the five national finalists for the special lotto drawing. The Powerball “First Millionaire of the Year” drawing takes place right after the ball drops in Times Square during Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2022.

It’s the first time any state secured more than one finalist for the drawing. Players from Illinois, Pennsylvania and Louisiana round out the five finalists.

Iowa’s First Millionaire candidates

Shari Beenken of Titonka — The 57-year-old office administrator from north-central Iowa said she was shocked to learn she was one of the finalists.

“I’m probably going to be on pins and needles! And it’s like, ‘OK, come on, let’s just draw this! Let’s go!’ It should be a good evening. It should be fun no matter what.”

Rob Long and the Lotto 22 group of Waterloo — Long is a warehouse employee in the northeast Iowa community. Coworkers pool their money for lottery buys there, but many didn’t know he entered the First Millionaire of the Year promotion.

“I  think the biggest thing for me was the surprise on everybody’s face and how happy they were that we have the opportunity to be where we’re at on this.”

Titonka and Waterloo are about 135 miles apart in northern Iowa.

How they reached the First Millionaire finals

Altogether, 29 states took part in the First Millionaire of the Year promotion. The Iowa Lottery used its VIP club to create a pool of 20 semifinalists. Club members used the LotteryPlus app or went to the Iowa Lottery website to enter tickets. Entrants could scan the code or manually enter the Powerball ticket number on the front of the ticket.

Members could enter as many tickets of $2 or more as they’d like. But multiple plays on a single ticket would be just one entry. Tickets had to be entered between 10 a.m. Sept. 7 and 9:59 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28.

The Iowa Lottery used the Multi-State Lottery Association to choose the state’s 20 winners in a Sept. 30 drawing. Iowa’s winners each received $2,500 for being a semifinalist.

Beenken and Long won’t go empty-handed even is another finalist lands the main prize at the start of 2022. All of the finalists receive a:

  • 70-inch LED TV
  • karaoke system
  • premium laptop computer and
  • deluxe dinner for eight.

What would they do if they won?

Beenken said she and her husband Rod would likely invest a majority of the winnings for retirement. She told Iowa Lottery officials she’d spend a little of the prize as well.

“I need a new dishwasher. I’m not extravagant,” she said.

Long, on the other hand, has to divide up the $1 million prize among his Lotto 22 coworkers. By city they are:

  • Clarksville — Scott Herrmann and Victor Herrmann
  • Denver — Bruce Gonnerman
  • Dunkerton — Michael Nicolaus and Nancy Smock
  • Independence — Bryan Cain and Kristen Kayser
  • Jesup — Ronald Kester
  • La Porte City — Bruce Long
  • Oelwein — Ellyn Perkins
  • Plainfield — Valeria Marks
  • Raymond — Randy Ruehs
  • Shell Rock — Grant Clark
  • Waterloo — Trish Bandfield, Mark Burke, Steven Foster, Kelvin Holmes, Rob Long, Nesffy Molina, Mike O’Connor, Martin Van Horn, Eric Woodward

Each Lotto 22 member would receive about $45,500 before taxes. The group held a drawing to decide who gets the merchandise portion of the finalist package.

Long and his wife Heather will buy a new vehicle if the Waterloo group wins. He also has an old-school plan in mind for a small portion of the winnings.

“I’ve always wanted a Donkey Kong machine. So maybe I’ll buy myself a Donkey Kong machine because I’m an ’80s guy and I love arcade games.”

How to watch the First Millionaire drawing

Since the drawing happens immediately following the Times Square celebration, the Powerball First Millionaire may likely be one of the last millionaires of 2021 instead.

That’s because four of the five finalists (Illinois, Louisiana and Iowa x2) are in the Central time zone. Only the Pennsylvania finalist has a chance to win in the first moments of 2022.

Country artist Jessie James Decker will return as the Powerball First Millionaire correspondent for her third year. Plans call for her to check in with all of the finalists during the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast on ABC.

Photo by Iowa Lottery Photo
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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