More than 8 million dreams were dashed this weekend.
That's how many tickets were sold for Saturday's $20 million Lotto drawing -- 8,179,625, to be exact.
There was just one winner, lottery officials said yesterday -- believed to be someone in Anne Arundel County.
Today, the losers will be waiting in awe and extreme envy to find out who owns that ticket to lifelong prosperity. The winner will get the largest award in the game's eight-year history -- $1 million a year before taxes for 20 years -- and one of the largest lottery prizes for a single ticket in the nation.
Lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. refused to say whether the winner bought a ticket over the counter at one of the state's approximately 1,850 outlets or had the six winning numbers through a subscription ticket entered in the agency's computer system.
But Mr. Hynson indicated that lottery officials might know who it is, saying that the identity of the ticket holder was to be verified today. Mr. Hynson also refused to give the specific location where the ticket was sold or even say whether it was a business outlet, until the winner is verified.
Mr. Hynson said that while most Lotto tickets are purchased at convenience stores, bars or delis, some players use subscriptions that allow them to pick a number and automatically keep playing it for weeks.
The odds on picking Saturday's winning numbers -- 9-15-24-3341-43 -- were one in 7 million. But with more than 8 million tickets sold, lottery officials had anticipated more than one winner.
"It's just amazing," Mr. Hynson said. "In drawings of this type, where there a lot of players, there are usually multiple winners. But nothing is impossible."
A lot of people came close. There were 277 tickets that matched five of the six numbers and are worth $1,193. Another 15,701 tickets had four of the six numbers and can be redeemed for a $35 consolation prize.
Saturday's jackpot reached the record $20 million after 10 RTC consecutive drawings in the twice-a-week game failed to produce a winner. The last jackpot was won July 3, with the holders of two lucky tickets sharing a prize of about $8.5 million.
Mr. Hynson said that more than 15 million tickets were sold for the Wednesday and Saturday drawings, possibly setting a new record in weekly sales.
The size of the jackpot also attracted players from Pennsylvania and Virginia.
But Virginia was also hit by widespread Lotto fever as that state's jackpot swelled to a record $26.8 million.
Virginia lottery officials said there were two winning tickets for the Saturday drawing with the winning numbers 2-4-5-26-43-44.