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Lottery ticket gives her chance to win $1 million

January 02, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Sharon Gatten is what one might call a lucky loser.

By sending in the $10 losing Maryland Lottery ticket she bought Dec. 17 on her 52nd birthday, the Hagerstown woman became eligible for up to $1 million this spring in the Maryland Lottery Cash Encounters grand finale in Baltimore.

Gatten was one of 15 players whose non-winning tickets were drawn from nearly 20,000 returned by other hopefuls, lottery officials said.

"I got $1,000 for just being picked," Gatten said

On Monday, Gatten traveled to Baltimore where she and the other 14 preliminary players competed in a game show which narrowed the field to six.

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"And I made it," Gatten said.

The telecast aired on the 11 p.m. Channel 13 News program Tuesday.

A certified nursing assistant who works with the mentally retarded, Gatten said she doesn't play the lottery regularly because she feels it costs too much money.

"But Dec. 17 was my birthday and I just decided to spend $10 for one scratch-off ticket," Gatten said.

When she didn't win, Gatten said she immediately put the losing ticket in an envelope and sent it to the address shown on the ticket for the Cash Encounters drawing.

"I went right to the post office and mailed it along with my Christmas cards," she said.

As the Christmas holidays neared, Gatten went to Ohio to be with family members. While she was there, her longtime boyfriend, Jerry Wilson, called her and said a letter had come from the Maryland Lottery.

"I told him to open it and read it to me," Gatten said. "I've had butterflies ever since I heard the news."

Gatten and Wilson visited Market Lot Liquors Tuesday afternoon where she purchased her lucky losing ticket.

Joanne Hood, one of the owners of Market Lot Liquors, said she was very happy for Gatten's good fortune even though the store gets no share of this special drawing.

Taping the game show was fun, not to mention the favorable outcome, Gatten said. And now she has a long couple of months to wait to see if she really hits it big.

In addition to the $1 million grand prize, there will be runner-up prizes worth as much as $600,000, lottery officials said.

"You know, when I first found out I'd been selected, my mother said she wasn't surprised," Gatten said. "Mom said when you help people all the time, good things come ... and they did."

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