By Victoria Cavaliere
NEW YORK, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A New Jersey woman who said she is one of 16 co-workers holding one of three winning tickets in this week's $448 million Powerball lottery jackpot plans to use her share to fix her home that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, according to local media.
Susan Nickel, of Eagleswood Township, was the first of her colleagues from the Ocean County Vehicle Services Department to speak publicly about the lottery win.
"I'm still up in the clouds. I can't even tell you. I'm just so excited. You dream it, you live it, you love it, and you think you're never going to do it," she told Philadelphia's WPVI television.
Nickel, whose share of the winnings will amount to about $9 million, said she intends to keep her job until her retirement in 18 months. Some of the winnings will go towards finishing repairs on her home, which took on 7 feet (2 metres) of water when the region was hit by Superstorm Sandy last October, she said.
The Ocean County workers, nicknamed the "Ocean 16," hold one of two winning tickets sold in New Jersey, though neither of those tickets has been submitted for validation, the New Jersey Lottery said Saturday. Each ticket is worth $149.3 million, before taxes.
The third winning ticket was claimed by Minnesota engineer Paul White, 45 on Thursday.
Nickel said she learned she was an instant millionaire from a co-worker.
"They all got to work before me and they had checked the tickets that were in our bottom drawer, because you know, nobody ever thinks they're going to win," she said. "I didn't believe them. And then my co-worker Elaine came out and shook me and said, 'We did win!'"
The group expects to claim their winnings next week, Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Department Director Jim Pine said.
The largest jackpot in history stands at $656 million, won in the Mega Millions lottery in March 2012. That prize was split among winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.
The biggest single-winner Powerball jackpot, of $590.5 million, was claimed in June by an 84-year-old Florida woman who opted for a lump-sum payment of nearly $371 million rather than the 30-year option.
Powerball tickets are sold in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Five states - Kansas, Maryland, Delaware, North Dakota and Ohio - allow the winners to remain anonymous, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. (Editing by Scott Malone and Vicki Allen)
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