The Luckiest Snickers Bar In The World

HOW A $0.95 SNICKERS BAR WON THESE 7 PEOPLE $319 MILLION by Douglas Montero and Bob Fredericks, NYPOST.

Chocolate never tasted this rich.

A state information-technology worker’s fateful craving for a 95-cent Snickers bar put him in the right place at the right time to score a Mega Millions ticket worth a sweet $319 million.

“I like the Snickers Dark and I say, ‘I gotta have one of those,’ ” a jubilant Mike Barth, 63, said yesterday, explaining how he scored the winning ducat at Coulson’s News Center last Friday for himself and six co-workers.

“I pull myself out of the line to get the candy bar, and this guy jumps in front of me,” he said. “I’m like, ‘I should say something,’ but I behaved myself.”

Letting the jerk slide was a good bet for Barth.

“I bought the next ticket — the winning ticket!” he said.

Barth’s winning Quick Pick ticket beat the Mega Millions lottery’s 1-in-176 million odds, making him and his colleagues, who slave away maintaining the computer systems for the state housing agency, rich enough to help bail out Albany.

The geek squad from the Homes and Community Renewal agency — an umbrella group of state housing bureaus — made their first public appearance yesterday as newly-minted multimillionaires at State Lottery headquarters in Schenectady.

As for five co-workers who normally participate in the office pool but decided to take a pass this time around, one winner said the losers had no one to blame but themselves.

“We asked everybody on the floor. Some of us got in, and some of us didn’t,” said Gabrielle Mahar, 29. “You’ve got to play to win!”

While no decisions have been made, several winners suggested they might take mercy on their out-of-luck pals and share some of the wealth.

“It’s going to be up to the individual,” said Leon Peck, 62.

The newly dubbed “Albany Seven” winners also include Tracy Sussman, 41; John Hilton, 57; John Kutey, 54; and Kristin Baldwin, 42.

The work pals typically kicked in $2 apiece whenever the Mega Millions jackpot topped $100 million — four times last year and twice so far this year.

They’ve chosen the lump-sum option, which will pay them $19.1 million each after taxes.

Mahar said she was at home watching the 11 o’clock news with her boyfriend last Friday night when the winning numbers flashed across the screen.

She thought the drawing was Thursday, so she’d already tossed her photocopy of the tickets into the recycling bin and had to dig it out.

“I checked it, I rechecked it, and I rechecked it, and I couldn’t believe it was real,” she said.

Mahar called her mother but didn’t want to wake Baldwin, her supervisor.

“You have to call her, Gabrielle, it’s the Mega Millions!” her mother told her.

They started spreading the news first thing Saturday.

Peck, known as the office prankster, thought his co-workers were turning the tables when he started getting one call after another.

“But I didn’t think anyone would be calling that early on a Saturday to play a joke,” he said.

The winners decided that Hilton — who lived closest to work — had to go get the ticket, which they’d stashed in a desk drawer.

Taking one of his grown sons along, he drove to the Hampton Building on State Street.

Back home, Hilton asked himself, “What am I going to do with it now? I’m frantic now.”

He took the ticket and placed it inside a Ziploc bag, then buried it in a 5-pound pail of birdseed, which he hid in his basement. “I didn’t know what else to do,” he said.

The group agreed to meet at Baldwin’s home Sunday and devise a plan. They dropped out of sight until yesterday to huddle with legal and financial wizards.

The winners said they’ve given little thought to how they’ll use their fortunes, except for a few immediate necessities and indulgences.

Mahar wants a dishwasher, Sussman needs to replace a stove that gave out a few weeks back, and Barth could use a set of tires — and pay his son’s college tuition.

Others are dreaming of travel.

Kutey, who flies a Disney flag at his home, said he and his wife plan to visit Disney parks all over the world.

“We haven’t been to Disney since last August,” he said. “I’m sure she’s going to want to go. We’re like two big kids.”

Mahar said she wants to travel extensively, and help people less fortunate than her.

Hilton said he’s not sure where he’s going — but knows he’ll be flying first class.

Peck, meanwhile, has his priorities straight — taking care of his mother first with a new car.

Barth credited the “fickle finger of fate.” Lottery officials agreed, saying there’s no guarantee Barth would have gotten the winning numbers had the other guy not cut in on line.

“Random luck is all about being in the right place at the right time,” said lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.

And Barth had a final word for the line-cutter: “Ha, ha, ha, you never know.”