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Lifestyle & Human Interest

He Splits $22 Million with Best Friend After Winning Lottery, Keeping Promise Made 20+ Years Ago

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When true friends make a pact, they follow through with it, no matter how difficult or impossible it might seem.

In 1992, two genuine friends made a deal: Joseph Feeney and Thomas Cook decided that if either one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, they’d split it with the other. They shook on it.

They bought tickets often, but they didn’t expect to win.

Many people like to daydream about what they’d do if they won the lottery, but Cook knew exactly what to do when he won the $22 million in the June 10 drawing. He called Feeney.

“He called me and I said, ‘are you jerking my bobber?'” Feeney told the Wisconsin Lottery.

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Feeney, who has spent much of his retirement fishing, formerly worked at a fire department. Cook, realizing what his winnings meant, promptly submitted his two-weeks notice.

“Congratulations to Tom, Joe, and their families,” Wisconsin Lottery Director Cindy Polzin said. “The power of friendship and a handshake has paid off. I’m thrilled for them—their lucky day has arrived!”

The win came as a shock to Cook, who handed the ticket off to his wife when the numbers started matching up.

“It was quite an experience when I read them first two, three numbers and I kinda froze and handed them to her, and she froze,” he explained in a Wisconsin Lottery video, laughing.

Cook and Feeney plan to travel more, thanks to this financial windfall. The two couples have traveled together in the past, and they plan on traveling together again — but in higher style.

“We can pursue what we feel comfortable with,” Cook said. “I can’t think of a better way to retire.”

Cook also looks forward to spending more time with family now that he’s able to retire.

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Of course, the two men didn’t walk away with the full listed amount. They opted for cash, and each ended up taking about $5.7 million home after taxes. Still, that’s nothing to sneeze at, and will certainly afford them a more enjoyable retirement.

And Cook doesn’t seem to have any regrets over splitting the win.

“A handshake’s a handshake, man,” he said.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking