$60 million winner bought ticket at Pasadena store

Employees wait for Big Game jackpot owner to claim prize

May 27, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The employees at BJ's Wholesale Club in Pasadena are dying to know: Who went into the giant discount store Saturday afternoon and walked out holding the winning Big Game lottery ticket worth $60 million -- the richest jackpot in Maryland history?

The elusive ticketholder, who beat odds of 1 in 76 million to win the multistate lottery game, had not come forward by yesterday evening, according to Maryland lottery officials. The $60 million prize crushes the record for the state's top lottery win, a nearly $21.1 million Lotto prize in 1991.

After hearing about the lucky purchase, store employees first checked their lottery tickets, then tried to figure out who the lucky customer was.

"I'm just giving everybody 20 questions in case they won," said Mary Anne Jufer, as she handed out teriyaki chicken samples to shoppers yesterday. "I've been having a ball talking to everybody about it."

"We bought tickets the day before," said employee Paula Huett, who said she "felt a little twang in my stomach" when she learned of the big win.

"I just hope they need the money," she said.

Maryland Lottery officials said the winning ticket was purchased early Saturday afternoon by someone buying $3 worth of lottery tickets at a ticket machine in BJ's. The buyer chose to receive a cash payment of $31.5 million, instead of collecting 26 payments of $2.3 million over 25 years. State lottery officials said the one-time payout is equal to the money the state would have spent by a $60 million annuity. The after-tax winnings are estimated at $20 million.

Because of the small amount of the ticket purchase, "there's a good chance that it was bought by one person," said Maryland Lottery spokesman Jimmy White.

The ticketholder's failure to step forward immediately is not unusual, said Buddy Roogow, director of the Maryland Lottery. "The larger the prize is, people tend to take a few days to sort of gather their senses and make sure they've talked to some trusted advisers and confidantes to determine how they should proceed," he said.

These days, Roogow said, lottery winners are more sophisticated about their sudden good fortune.

"You used to hear about how people went broke spending their money too fast," he said. "Now, people tend to get some financial advice, to their benefit and to their credit."

The 54-year-old Boston baby sitter who won a $197 million Big Game jackpot last month waited eight days to claim her prize. She said she needed time to seek legal advice and clear her head.

A Howard County man who won $21 million in the Maryland Lotto in 1993 said he took a couple days to seek financial advice before he came forward.

The man, who did not want his name used, said he was able to retire from his engineering job, but his life has remained largely the same since his windfall. "I live in the same house," he said. "I take my vacations. It's nothing extravagant."

He said he still buys lottery tickets, "when the pot gets big."

The Big Game lottery began in August 1996, with six states participating: Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, Massachusetts and Maryland. Three previous winning tickets were bought in Maryland -- two worth $5 million and one worth $16 million. The Big Game competes with Powerball, a 21-state lottery that also builds up whopping jackpots.

Big Winners

The largest Big Game jackpots since the game, played by six states, began in August 1996:

$197 million, April 6, 1999

$77 million, April 4, 1997

$60 million, May 26, 1999

$60 million, April 7, 1998

$46 million, Jan. 24, 1997

$42 million, March 21, 1997

$34 million, March 14, 1997

$30 million, May 16, 1997

The Maryland Lottery has sold four winning Big Game tickets:

$60 million, May 26, 1999

$16 million, June 13, 1997

$5 million, July 25, 1997

$5 million, Sept. 19, 1997

The largest Lotto jackpots:

$21,077,615, Aug. 10, 1991

$21 million, Dec. 29, 1993

$19 million, Jan. 20, 1996

$18.5 million, Feb. 21, 1998

$18 million, May 11, 1994

$17 million, Aug. 30, 1997

$15 million, May 14, 1988

$15 million, May 27, 1992

$15 million, Nov. 15, 1995

$14,523,339, April 14, 1990

$14 million, May 16, 1987

$12,288,777, Aug. 11, 1990

$11.5 million, June 6, 1998

Source: Maryland Lottery

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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