Havre de Grace father and son split $9 million Lotto jackpot calmly

October 07, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

Charles Carmen Gamatoria Sr. and his son Stephen have played Maryland lottery games since they began in 1976. Last week, the Havre de Grace residents hit the Lotto jackpot for $9 million.

There have been no wild flings to the Caribbean or shopping sprees, Stephen Gamatoria said. And they waited until yesterday to turn in their winning ticket at the Lottery Agency. They will collect their first winners' check of $450,000 next week, the agency said.

"None of us reacted the way we thought we would," Stephen Gamatoria said of his family. "It's just business as usual."

They hired a financial planner and attorney in the first few days and called the family together. Charles Gamatoria, who is divorced, has two other children, Charles Gamatoria Jr. and Angela Mergler, both of Havre de Grace.

Stephen Gamatoria, 35, is married and has a 9-year-old son. He was back at his job this week as an employee health and safety specialist at a Harford County chemical company.

His 66-year-old father, who retired from what is now AT&T Corp. in 1984, continued to answer calls as a volunteer firefighter for the Susquehanna Hose Company in Havre de Grace, as he has for the past 48 years.

Each week, the two men buy $5 worth of tickets and pool the numbers. The elder Mr. Gamatoria, who immigrated from Italy with his parents, bought the winning ticket Sept. 28 at his usual location, McLhinney's News Depot in Havre de Grace.

"Dad wrote down the numbers . . . but he wrote the last number as 39 instead of 49," the son said. His father went to bed thinking maybe he had four numbers, he said.

The next morning, when the elder Mr. Gamatoria retrieved the ticket from his car, he realized that it was a winner.

The Gamatorias, who will split the winnings 50-50, "had to think about the best way to go with all this wealth," Stephen Gamatoria said.

They would like to buy a summer house on the Eastern Shore or in Ocean City, invest some of the money and share some of it with other family members, the younger Mr. Gamatoria said.

But their lives don't seem any different, he said. "We're just average Joes trying to get by."

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