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Working the numbers

Players have strategies for picking big winner

Players have strategies for picking big winner

November 08, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

WASHINGTON COUNTY

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Calculating the chances of winning today's $225 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot might be less daunting than figuring out ways to calculate the winning numbers, but some area residents believe they have the equation.

Odds of winning today's Mega Millions jackpot are one in more than 175 million, said Gail Pelovitz, public affairs officer for the Maryland Lottery.

Tickets for Mega Millions are available in 12 states, including Maryland.

If one person were to be the sole winner and take the payout in a lump sum, the payment would be about $89 million after taxes. Payout taken over 26 years would be $5.9 million a year, Pelovitz said.

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The winning numbers for today's jackpot - the fifth-largest in Mega Millions history - will be drawn at 11:07 p.m., she said.

Anthony Atha plays the odds game. The 19-year-old Williamsport man said he uses a trick his father, who works for a financial firm, once used to win about $1,000.

He takes a calculator, punches in pi and then divides it by random numbers, or multiplies it by random numbers to get his numbers.

It's worth a shot, said Atha, who said he would "invest it in a restaurant chain" if he won.

Brittani Watkins, 18, relies on the wisdom of her grandmother for winning lottery numbers. Her grandmother, a "big lottery player," picks numbers by "recent occurrences," the Williamsport woman said.

If a number pops up at an event or while she's doing something, she holds onto it and uses it in her mix of ticket numbers.

"She actually won $500 once," Watkins said.

Watkins said if she won she'd pay off her debt before going to New York to "invest in a fashion line."

At 81, Esther Upperman is just beginning her quest to win the lottery.

"I just started playing it, thinking I could be a millionaire," she said Monday while shopping at Valley Mall.

The Hagerstown woman said she has allowed the machines to pick her numbers in the past, but after a string of bad luck, is starting to change her mind.

"I thought I might be a little better off picking my own," she said.

She said she'll use the ages of her grandchildren and her son and daughter to include in her ticket picks.

Ray Cool is a consistent lottery player. He said he buys tickets on his way home from work on Tuesdays and Fridays.

But that's where his strategy ends.

"I let the machine do it," he said. "It's the same as if I pick 'em."

Cool, 76, said if he wins today, "I'd have some millionaire relatives."

Vel Hoffman, 73, has been playing the lottery for about 20 years, but only when the pot gets big.

"I'm hoping I'll win soon," she said. "Somebody has to win."

The Berkeley Springs, W.Va., woman said she lets the machine pick her numbers.

"It's easy. I don't have to think," she said.

Hoffman said she knows exactly what she'd do if she won the jackpot.

"I'd have a heart attack," she said and laughed.

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