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Man kept decades-old promise to split Powerball winnings with friend when he won $22 million jackpot [Video]



  • Thomas Cook honored a 28-year-old agreement when he split his $22 million winnings with his friend, Joseph Feeney.
  • Ever since the Wisconsin Lottery started in 1992, the two pals had an agreement that if one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, they would split the winnings with each other.
  • The two pals are now looking forward to a comfortable life of retirement with their families.

When Thomas Cook of Elk Mound, Wisconsin won a $22 million Powerball jackpot, the first thing he did was to split it with his friend, Joseph Feeney.

It turns out that the two pals had a 28-year-old agreement that if one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, they would split the winnings with each other.

So when Cook got a hold of the winning ticket, he made sure to honor that agreement.

Cook recalled the moment in an interview with the Wisconsin Lottery on Thursday: “It was quite an experience. When I read the first two or three numbers, I kind of froze.” He added that his wife had the same reaction.

As soon as the realization sinked in, Cook called his dear friend.

Feeney shared that he initially thought his friend was simply joking. He said that they had never thought that they would actually win, despite buying lottery tickets every week.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Lottery

Cook said that their promise “happened many years ago,” but despite the long time that passed, “a handshake’s a handshake, man.”

A press release from the Wisconsin Lottery declared that the friends chose the cash option of about $16.7 million. After federal and state taxes, Cook and Feeney will take home roughly $5.7 million each.

Cook shared that he has since retired after winning. Feeney, meanwhile, had already retired from his job at the fire department.


The two pals have no extravagant plans for the money — they simply want to spend a comfortable life of retirement with their families and travel a few places.

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

Cook’s Powerball jackpot win is the first in the state since March 2019, when a record-setting $768.4 million jackpot was won by a 24-year-old man. It’s the state’s 18th Powerball jackpot win since the lottery started in 1992. There is only 1 in about 292 million chance of winning the Powerball jackpot.

The Menomonie gas station, which sold Cook the winning ticket, received a $100,000 reward.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Lottery

Cindy Polzin, the state’s lottery director, congratulated the two friends: “The power of friendship and a handshake has paid off. I’m thrilled for them — their lucky day has arrived!”