Lucky gambler from Virginia was 'passing through'

November 14, 1990|By James Bock

Maryland's Lotto game will add a new Wednesday drawing in January, but Charlotte A. Fletcher doesn't plan to play.

Mrs. Fletcher really doesn't need to. She came forward yesterday as the sole winner of last Saturday's $7.7 million Lotto jackpot.

The 46-year-old federal government personnel officer from Fairfax County, Va., bought her winning ticket -- and defied the 6.99-million-to-1 odds against matching six of 49 numbers to hit the jackpot -- while picking up a magazine Nov. 4 in an Ocean City variety store.

"There was no one standing in line. I was the only one there. I walked over and purchased five tickets," she said.

As a result, she came to Baltimore yesterday to collect her initial Lotto payment of $390,629. She will receive 19 more annual checks for $384,000 each -- all before taxes.

"I don't frequent the Lotto," said Mrs. Fletcher, who is married and has two sons, ages 26 and 24. "I'll bet you I play maybe a dozen times a year. I don't go out of state to purchase tickets. I was just passing through."

Mrs. Fletcher said she would be at work in Washington at 8 a.m. tomorrow, as always.

"I'm going to continue life like this didn't happen until I sit down with someone in the profession to guide me," she said. "My oldest son works for a broker, and he says he's already started a portfolio."

The winner said she learned of her good fortune Sunday afternoon and hadn't slept since. She couldn't collect her winnings Monday because lottery offices were closed for Veterans Day.

Mrs. Fletcher said she hoped "to make life easier for some of the people around me. This can help other people. I'm a happy person, even if this didn't happen."

While the latest Lotto winner said she wouldn't cross the Potomac to buy tickets for a Wednesday drawing, lottery officials predict that expanding the game to twice-weekly as of Jan. 9 will mean a "sizable increase in sales."

Martin R. Goldman, the lottery's marketing chief, said agency telephone surveys showed "the public wants less days between drawings." He said other states that had expanded to twice-weekly drawings had boosted sales by 15 percent to 100 percent.

Almost half of Maryland adults play Lotto, Mr. Goldman said, with four of five Lotto tickets sold in the three days leading up to the Saturday night drawing.

At a 7-Eleven in Brooklyn Park yesterday afternoon, lottery players and sellers agreed the agency's gambit would pay off.

"People like to gamble. They'll respond," said Lavonne Walker, assistant store manager. "It sounds a lot like New York's Lotto to me. Maryland must be getting bigger."

"They'll play it -- 'cause it's there," said Mike Hippeard, a Brooklyn Park purchasing agent and lottery player.

But Bob Carpenter, a store clerk who begins selling lottery tickets at 6 a.m., said Lotto didn't tempt him.

"I see too much money going through that machine," he said.

Lotto sales were $159.3 million in the year ending June 30, less than a fifth of total lottery sales of $811.5 million. Daily numbers games account for the bulk of the action.

Mr. Goldman said he expected lottery sales to increase by 3 percent to 5 percent this year.

Although the state faces a growing deficit, Director William F. Rochford of the State Lottery Agency said Gov. William Donald Schaefer didn't order him to add a Lotto drawing. But he said, "The governor's a player. He likes to remind us that we have to keep the game exciting."

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