While most state employees are facing layoffs and reduced benefits, seven New York government workers have just come into millions — but not because of the generosity of their employer. Three women and four men who work as IT specialists and program managers at the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal and live in the Albany suburbs came forward to claim the fifth largest Mega Millions prize in history.

This brings office camaraderie and co-worker cooperation to a whole new level. They have the option of splitting the total prize in payments over 25 years, or take a one-time lump sum payment of $202.9 million before taxes. If they choose the latter, the seven winners would split $134 million, or $19.1 million each, after taxes. Not too bad for a days work.

It’s still unknown as to what their choice will be, they haven’t even come forward to claim their prize yet. But they have an entire year to do so, and few winners take that long. Odds are that none of them will continue their work for the state once they collect, thus opening up positions for others more in need of a full-time job. A representative for the union they belong to says the union is thrilled. But thats not the end…

Seven state workers who won the $319 million Mega Millions lottery said on Thursday they are still deciding whether to split it with five unlucky co-workers who chose not to play this time around.  They are among a group of 12 colleagues who for the past four years have pooled their money in the hopes of winning the biggest jackpot game in the United States. Five of them, however, bowed out of the March 25 purchase – which turned out to be the lucky ticket. My guess is that the five that decided not to go in this week are a tad angry with themselves for not putting in the $1.

“Some of us got in and some of us didn’t,” said Gabrielle Mahar, 29, of Colonie, who heeded a long-time lottery motto, “You’ve got to play to win.” Her dream purchase, she said, was a dishwasher.