Lottery prize bittersweet

December 31, 1993|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

Catherine Helowicz and Timothy Udicious, the latest entries on the Maryland lottery's list of millionaires, wept through dazed, bloodshot eyes yesterday as they accepted a $21 million check from state lottery officials.

The couple, who work for the U.S. Department of Defense and live in Howard County, said they had been in shock since 8 p.m. Wednesday. That's when they learned they had matched the six winning numbers -- 4, 21, 28, 29, 30, 48 -- in the largest Maryland lotto jackpot since August 1991, when David Moreland of Lothian won $21 million.

Theirs was the only winning ticket.

No one had won the state's lotto since Oct. 30. During the next eight weeks, the jackpot steadily grew. By December, with the millions adding up, public buying of lotto tickets reached historic proportions.

Sales topped $89 million in December, making it the best month in the game's 20-year history, said Carroll H. Hynson Jr., deputy director of public affairs for the state lottery agency.

Mr. Udicious, 31, said he watched Ms. Helowicz, 34, run screaming through his apartment for 10 minutes after they realized they shared the lone winning ticket, a quick pick bought at Owen Brown Liquors in Columbia.

"She screamed. She jumped. She ran around. I wondered if I would have to call the hospital," he said.

The couple, who have dated since they met two years ago during a Trivial Pursuit game at a local bar, said they will split their winnings. Mr. Udicious vowed that they will "continue in our jobs and work for an honest living."

As of yesterday, they had not made any plans about how they would spend the money, estimated to be $500,000 each for the next 20 years before state and federal taxes carve out about 42 percent.

The fact that they had suddenly become multi-millionaires left both shaken, grim and introspective. They cried throughout a 20-minute news conference and guarded the details of their private lives.

"I'm nervous," Ms. Helowicz said.

"It's shocking," Mr. Udicious said. "It was hard coming here. What does it get you, and where does it get you? We've got a lot to decide on. You're up a bit, and you're down a bit."

They are sure of one thing. They plan to share the winnings with their parents.

"We've got a lot to be thankful for. They've given us a lot," Mr. Udicious said as he hugged Ms. Helowicz, tears welling in his XTC eyes. "You dream of all those things, and, when something like this happens, all of those dreams go away. This is a whole new environment."

The couple said they slept little and spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning dreaming -- and meeting with accountants.

Jay Naish, a Certified Public Accountant in Towson, said that as millionaires, Mr. Udicious and Ms. Helowicz soon will become familiar with the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993, also known as the Clinton tax plan. In it, earnings of more than $250,000 are taxed at 39.6 percent, Mr. Naish said. Add to that state taxes.

"You can see from that that the big winner in this lottery is the IRS and the state of Maryland," Mr. Naish said.

The couple arrived at lottery headquarters in the Reisterstown Road Plaza at 2:10 p.m. yesterday, two hours before the office was scheduled to close.

"We ran through everything we wanted to do and will do," Ms. Helowicz said.

"But these are dreams. Reality is a far cry from this," Mr. Udicious added. "I always thought I'd be successful, but not like this. You don't know what the coming weeks and years will hold. Before this, there were a lot of people who didn't know or care who I was."

Roy Bates, manager of Owen Brown Liquors, said last night he was stunned to learn his store had sold the winning ticket. That brings the store a $9,000 commission, he said. The store also sold a $1 million winning ticket in July 1992.

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