Only after Druretta Moore was safely inside state lottery headquarters today did she dare to relinquish the blue coin purse in which she had kept her winning $8 million Lotto ticket for two days.
Since Saturday night, when she learned by watching television that she held a winning ticket, the 53-year-old Moore had taken the change purse everywhere with her -- to bed, to the bathroom. It was never out of reach.
She finally let go, so lottery officials could place in her hands a facsimile of an $8 million check.
"There's nothing in there," Moore admitted as officials put aside the battered brown purse she carries.
By nothing, Moore meant not a single cent. The purse was bulging with ID cards, important papers and mail, but Moore didn't have a penny to her name when she arrived to claim her prize.
Now she will have about $400,000 a year for the next 20 years, a payoff that comes after years of playing various forms of the state lottery game.
"Sometimes I bought six or seven tickets," said Moore, a lifelonresident of West Baltimore. "Sometimes I couldn't buy any."
Moore said she selected the winning numbers -- 11, 16, 21, 22, 26 and 37 -- by a system that only she knows. Even now, she's not about to reveal the way it works. After all, she said, she might play again.
Her winnings also have not immediately dissuaded Moore from trying to collect disability pay. A former Social Security Administration worker, Moore said she had to retire because of a heart attack in 1988 and has been using a wheelchair because of health problems.
Working at Social Security runs in the Moore family. Her brother, Dennis Knox, 39, and her sister, Lorraine Moore, still work there. But, her sister hopes she will be able to leave now.