Taking a gamble is popular choice

Excluding video lottery, lottery sales in the Tri-State area during fiscal year 2002 totalled more than $75.7 million.

Excluding video lottery, lottery sales in the Tri-State area during fiscal year 2002 totalled more than $75.7 million.

March 03, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

If Butch McPherson wins another large lottery prize, he won't be doing as much bragging.

"Everybody calls here and wants money. How much do you get out of $30,000? You don't get much," said McPherson, 62, who lives east of Clear Spring.

Maryland Lottery officials don't track lottery payouts by county, but McPherson's $30,000 Slingo winnings last May were among the larger winnings announced in Washington County during the fiscal year from July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2002.

The Tri-State area sold winning lottery games that resulted in approximately $44.5 million in prize money, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery and West Virginia Lottery.


That does not include winnings from video lottery.

Charles Town Races & Slots had video lottery sales of $2.3 billion in fiscal 2001-02. Video lottery paid out almost $2.1 billion to winners that year, according to the West Virginia Lottery.

Excluding video lottery, lottery sales in the Tri-State area during fiscal year 2002 totaled more than $75.5 million.

Lottery sales in Pennsylvania, which amounted to $11 million that year, are sure to go up significantly this fiscal year thanks to the addition of Powerball to the state's game offerings, Pennsylvania Lottery spokeswoman Sally Danyluk said.

The state's lottery commission estimated lottery sales would increase $60 million to $100 million this year thanks to Powerball and those numbers are on track so far, she said.

Powerball started in Pennsylvania in late June last year, Danyluk said.

Big winners

The largest win last fiscal year in the Tri-State area went to the group referred to as the Food Lion 14. Fourteen employees at the Food Lion on Philadelphia Avenue in Chambersburg, Pa., won $30,018,867.50 in the March 9 Super 6 Lotto.

Attempts were made to reach members of the Food Lion 14, but messages were not returned, phone numbers had been disconnected and phones rang unanswered. A possible Food Lion 14 member or relative was contacted, but that person wasn't interested in discussing the win or passing on a message.

"What happens is they usually get an unlisted number and they don't want to be hassled by investors and others," Danyluk said.

Danyluk said she hasn't heard from the Food Lion 14 since they won and collected their checks. After taxes, each received a check for about $1.3 million.

Even if they change their phone numbers, big jackpot winners usually don't change their lives too much, Danyluk said.

"They stay in the same house. Sometimes they quit their jobs, if they won a significant amount they can retire on. They tend to keep things pretty much the same," she said.

Mary and Dennis Hockensmith of Boonsboro didn't move or quit their jobs with the U.S. Postal Service in Frederick, Md., after winning $50,000 from a Quick Pick ticket he bought almost a year ago, Mary Hockensmith said.

They still plan to see Claude Monet's Garden in Giverny, France, and to take their grandchildren to Disney World in Florida when they get older.

Hockensmith doesn't know what changes the couple would make if any of her husband's lottery tickets made them bigger winners.

"You really don't know what you'd do until it happens," she said. "I haven't thought about it."

Hockensmith doesn't think about buying lottery tickets either.

That's her husband's game.

"I always had the opinion that I work hard for my money; I want to hold onto it. The odds are too great for me," Hockensmith said. But, she said, she's glad the odds aren't too great for her husband to play.

Still playing

As for McPherson, the recent retiree is still playing lottery, and bingo at the Clear Spring fire hall.

"I play 'em all," McPherson said.

When he won $25,000 in a scratch-off game four years ago, McPherson bought jewelry, a lawn mower and a shed for the mower. He was laid off when he won $30,000 playing Slingo so those winnings went in the bank, he said.

And if he wins big a third time? McPherson said he won't give Maryland Lottery officials permission to release his name.

So how do we know he hasn't won big again?

"I didn't win nothing," McPherson said. "I'm not lying."

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