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youtube.com/NBC News
youtube.com/NBC News

Man Won $22 Million Jackpot and Split It with a Friend to Keep 30-Year-Old Promise

Dayna Remus
Nov 01, 2021
12:40 P.M.

Money can be a force that changes people for the worse, ruins relationships, and breaks down character. Thomas Cook chose to take a more integral road, but did he make the right decision?

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A promise is a promise, and Thomas Cook certainly stuck to his word after shaking hands with his friend Joseph Feeney almost 3 decades ago. They vowed that if either one won the lottery, they would split the prize money.

With that in mind and since 1992, these two companions have both been buying Wisconsin lottery tickets weekly, with little expectation for any tangible monetary outcome.

However, in June 2020, when Cook found out that he won a $22 million jackpot in the middle of breakfast, he was in awe. The new millionaire never thought that his seven-day bets would produce anything of substance.

Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney holding up placard along with their wives showing that they won the lottery. | Source: youtube.com/NBC News

Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney holding up placard along with their wives showing that they won the lottery. | Source: youtube.com/NBC News

NEVER BREAK A PINKY PROMISE

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A man of honor, he called his friend and broke the news, letting him know that he won and that they would be splitting the prize money. While many would pull out of this promise, Cook's integrity remained intact. He expressed:

"A handshake's a handshake, man."

According to the Wisconsin Lottery, the duo opted for the cash option standing at $16.7 million. This means, after taxes, they both accumulated around $6 million each.

Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney sitting together. | Source: youtube.com/NBC News

Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney sitting together. | Source: youtube.com/NBC News

LIVING IN PEACE

After winning the jackpot, Cook joined Feeney as a retired man. The newly-rich pair chose to use the money for traveling and spending more time with their loved ones.

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While Cook's actions were definitely honorable, some may put it down to naivety.

Speaking about this conservative decision, Cook said this was the best retirement plan he could have foreseen. The grandfather emphasized that he is happy with using the money to simply live the rest of his days comfortably.

Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney standing with their wives. | Source: youtube.com/NBC News

Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney standing with their wives. | Source: youtube.com/NBC News

DIE-HARD CAMARADERIE

Cindy Polzin, the Wisconsin state's lottery director, commented on the pair's lucky win. She expressed delight and admiration for their bond, stating:

“The power of friendship and a handshake has paid off. I’m thrilled for them — their lucky day has arrived!”

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While Cook's actions were honorable, some may put it down to naivety. Do you think he made the right choice? What would you have done if you were in his situation?

Krista and Anthony Rivera [left]; Needle injections and pill bottles for IVF treatment along with a teddy bear and children’s book [right].┃Source: facebook.com/Krista and Anthony Rivera

Krista and Anthony Rivera [left]; Needle injections and pill bottles for IVF treatment along with a teddy bear and children’s book [right].┃Source: facebook.com/Krista and Anthony Rivera

A DIFFERENT KIND OF JACKPOT

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While some win money, others win babies, and that's precisely what happened to a Florida couple that was unable to conceive. After learning they wouldn't be able to have a baby naturally, they entered a radio competition.

This was to hopefully get a chance at IVF treatments, which are expensive. The two won, but unfortunately, the IVF didn't work. However, the local Fort Meyers, Florida, station, B103.9, was so kind as to gift them a second round of treatments.

Eventually, their baby boy Garrett was born in 2019, and they immediately took to Facebook and shared a post about the excellent news. From Cook, Feeney, and this Florida couple, it looks like luck always comes in pairs.

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