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4 Co-Workers in Irvine Win Lot o’ Bucks : Lottery: They quit their jobs at an insurance company after landing $6.8 million in a $20-million jackpot.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Four co-workers at an Irvine insurance company fulfilled just about every employee’s fantasy Thursday: They promptly quit their jobs after winning a share of a $20-million lottery jackpot.

The women’s investment in a winning Super Lotto ticket (which came to $3.25 each for 13 Quick Picks) suddenly catapulted them from “unimportant, unlucky” claims processors at Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. to millionaires, they said during a news conference at a California Lottery district office here.

The four friends, who said they are “like family,” will be sharing $6.8 million of Wednesday’s $20-million jackpot. That means they each will receive $85,250 a year, before taxes, over the next 20 years.

Two other winning tickets have not been turned in yet, lottery officials said.

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The departure of the four Fidelity workers means the 150-employee Irvine branch will lose an entire department. Their boss, however, remained sanguine about the sudden turn of events.

“They were the claims payment processing department,” said Frank P. Willey, executive vice president of Fidelity. “We’ll hire new people unless they end up reconsidering. Maybe their euphoria will temper a little. It’ll be business as usual.”

But there were no signs of waning excitement as the four women checked off a list of “to do’s” with their first check. Although they declined to say how much they made at Fidelity, they said it was “much less” than what they will be getting in lottery money each year. And there were no mentions of returning to work--except maybe to help train the new employees.

“I wish I had a picture of (Willey’s) face when we told him,” said Suzanne Seibold, 40, of Westminster. “He didn’t believe it at first. He thought we were on a strike because we were ticked off” about a 10% pay cut.

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Tina DiGeorge, 22, of Garden Grove had worked in the department for only a week when she adopted 13 as the group’s lucky number and urged co-worker Debra Larson to purchase 13 Quick Pick tickets at a liquor store in Fountain Valley.

Seibold said she had to scrounge in her purse for enough money to pay for the lottery tickets. Karla Bresette, 22, of Westminster also contributed.

Larson, 31, of Garden Grove, said, “We just went nuts” when lottery officials verified their good fortune Wednesday at 8:08 p.m.

“We were yelling, crying, screaming. It was pandemonium,” Larson said breathlessly.

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Larson and Bresette said they plan to use a part of their winnings to upgrade weddings and extend honeymoons.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” Larson said.

Seibold said she plans to finish writing a novel that chronicles her parents’ lives. She will also pursue her dream of sharing a glass of Calvados brandy under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with her husband, she said.

DiGeorge, who has played guitar since the age of 6, said she wants to build her own music studio at her home and record blues music.

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Seibold’s family and Larson’s fiance also attended the news conference, where lottery district manager Charles E. Haywood presented them with a mock check for $6.8 million.

Seibold said she will help fill the empty claims processing department at Fidelity by training new employees for her job.

“The beauty of it is that I want to work instead of I have to,” said Seibold, who once supervised the small department.

Two other winning tickets were purchased in San Bernardino and Pittsburg in Northern California. If not claimed within 180 days, the money will go into the California education system, said Haywood, the lottery district manager.

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