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Woman ends up empty-handed in Cash Encounters finale

June 01, 2003|By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

While Sharon Gatten didn't win $1 million or a new car or any other prizes in the Maryland Lottery Cash Encounters grand finale in Baltimore televised Saturday, she said she will never forget the experience.

Singled out last December as "a lucky loser," Hagerstown resident Gatten and 19 others who parlayed losing lottery tickets into a chance for big winnings journeyed to lottery headquarters on May 10 to film the event.

When all the games had been played and prizes awarded, Gatten was one of seven who came away empty-handed.

"I didn't fare very well," Gatten said. "But it was once in a lifetime deal ... an adventure."

Gatten took her son and several friends along to Baltimore for the May 10 filming.

"The contestants were all shuttled from lottery headquarters to the studio where we had lunch," she said.

Later, the guests were brought over to watch the contestants play a series of guessing games and games of chance including rolling dice to try to win prizes.

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"A woman from Southern Maryland won the $1 million," Gatten said.

By sending in the $10 losing Maryland Lottery ticket she bought Dec. 17 on her 52nd birthday, Gatten became eligible for the grand finale.

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

She participated in a preliminary game show competition which narrowed the field in December.

"And I made it," Gatten said.

Then her luck ran out.

The final telecast aired Saturday at 7 p.m. on Channel 13.

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

But because Dec. 17 was her birthday, she decided to spend $10 for one scratch-off ticket, Gatten said. When she didn't win, she immediately put the losing ticket in an envelope and sent it to the address shown on the ticket for the Cash Encounters drawing.

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

Gatten said she will continue to buy lottery tickets.

She purchased her lucky losing ticket from Market Lot Liquors.

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