DES MOINES, Iowa -- The mystery winners of a $241 million Powerball jackpot in Iowa could have their identities unveiled as soon as Friday morning, state officials say.
Last month, the Iowa Lottery paid the biggest jackpot prize in state history to the 20 winners, a group of Quaker Oats workers from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, known as the "Shipping 20." But none of their names were released. It was the first time since the state lottery was established in 1985 that a jackpot winner hadn't been identified.
Iowa Lottery Chief Executive Officer Terry Rich advised the group's lawyers last month that the winners would be publicly identified on July 6 if they didn't follow through with their plans to seek a court order blocking lottery officials from releasing their names.
As of Tuesday, no petition had been filed in court to seek an injunction, and Rich said he didn't have any indication court action will occur by the deadline.
"I have the names and the document to release the names if we don't hear from them by Friday morning," Rich said.
Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the Iowa attorney general's office, which has been advising the Iowa Lottery on the matter, said Tuesday that his office had heard nothing new from the Cedar Rapids law firm of Day, Rettig and Peiffer, which is representing the Powerball winners.
"There is still time, but we haven't heard anything yet," Greenwood said.
Lawyers from the Cedar Rapids law firm didn't respond immediately to requests for comment Tuesday. The Des Moines Register has made a formal request to Iowa Lottery officials seeking the release of the winners' names, citing Iowa's open records law.
Nearly all of the 20 Quaker Oats workers attended an Iowa Lottery news conference June 20 in Des Moines after they claimed their prize. However, the suddenly wealthy workers refused to give their full names to reporters.
"We are private people, common people. I don't want the limelight," one man said.
The workers -- 18 men and two women -- chose to receive their payment from the drawing as a $112 million lump sum after taxes, rather than receiving a $241 million annuity spread over 30 years.
Each received $5.6 million after taxes.
A lawyer who represents the Shipping 20 Trust, said last month that he planned to seek a court order to block the Iowa Lottery from releasing the names of the winners.
The lawyer, Joe Day, said the legal winner of the Powerball jackpot is the Shipping 20 Trust, and the workers are beneficiaries of the trust who cannot be identified without their consent.
By WILLIAM PETROSKI
The Des Moines Register