Five friends who chipped in to buy lottery tickets together shared a memorable moment Thursday, as they claimed a $1 million Mega Millions® prize.

Tim Harless of Eldora bought the group’s $1 million winning ticket at a local convenience store for Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing. The friends, who call themselves “Just Us,” have played the lottery together for about 15 years. Harless said that while they’ve won smaller prizes over time, they now have a very different story to tell. “I got more than $2!” said Harless, 60, who works for the city of Eldora’s street department.

Those in the image, left to right, are: Dave Twedt, Steve Wright, Tim Harless, Dennis Dickenson and Julia Salazar. Courtesy - Iowa Lottery
left to right, are Dave Twedt, Steve Wright, Tim Harless, Dennis Dickenson, and Julia Salazar. Courtesy - Iowa Lottery

The four other members of the group are: Dennis Dickenson, 55; Julia Salazar, 64; Dave Twedt, 51; and Steve Wright, 67. They all live in Eldora and know each other through the Hardin County community of about 2,700. The four men say that Salazar keeps the rest of them fed. She has managed the local Casey’s convenience store for 20 years, and it’s their regular stop for lunch, snacks, and drinks. Dickenson, who works for Harless at the city’s street department, has a story of double good fortune: In November, he survived quadruple bypass surgery, and now he and his friends have won a big lottery prize. “I feel lucky,” he said.

Harless bought the $1 million winning ticket at Casey’s, 1807 Edgington Ave. in Eldora. The easy-pick ticket came within one number of having a share of Tuesday’s $372 million jackpot, matching the first five numbers but missing the Mega Ball. A single ticket purchased in Ohio won that night’s jackpot.

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