The biggest payout in the nine-year history of Maryland's Pick 4 lottery game has jammed the payout windows at Lottery headquarters in Baltimore.
More than 200 winners packed the hallway outside the agency's Reisterstown Plaza offices yesterday afternoon, eager to collect their checks for payoffs on $1 bets that ranged from $200 to $5,000.
The winning number in Friday's Pick 4 was 1110, close enough to the digits in the Jan. 10 drawing date -- a popular combination for regular players -- to generate a $4,784,200 payoff.
"People want to get their checks right away," said lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. "They've been saying, a lot of them, that they're going to pay bills. So this money will go right back into the economy. It's going to bring a lot of people up to date with their rent."
The crowds forced the lottery agency to implement an emergency plan that brought employees in from other duties to staff the cash windows.
At midafternoon, Hynson said, the clerks were completing payout transactions at a rate of one every six minutes.
The record payoff is more than 10 times as much as the state took in Friday. So many people used the date as the basis for their picks that 4,924 wound up winners.
Of the winners, 589 picked the numbers "straight" (in the exact order), winning $5,000 on a $1 bet. Another 4,308 bet the numbers "boxed," or in a rearranged order, to win amounts ranging from $200 to $1,200. The rest played the number both boxed and straight.
Until now, the biggest payout on a Pick 4 game was $4.5 million on June 13, 1986, when the numbers 1313 hit.
"This time, when we're looking at a recession, we've sure got a lot of happy people out there," Hynson said.
It's not all good news, however. Winners must fill out federal W2-G forms, which remind them to report their winnings next year on their 1992 tax returns.
If they bet enough to push their winnings above $5,000, their checks are reduced by 20 percent for federal income taxes and another 7.5 percent for state taxes.
The lottery cashiers also check each winner against a computer list of people who owe past-due child-support payments. If a winner is on the list, those payments also will be withheld from the payout, Hynson said.
Players who have won and who hate crowds can cash their tickets at the Landover claim center, 1221 Caraway Court, a block from the Capital Centre. Or they can just wait for the crowds to diminish. They have 182 days from last Friday to cash their winning tickets.