- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 21, 2002

Odds of 1 in 120.5 million. No problem, says Deborah Brown, 47.
"I'm that one. I'm positive," the secretary said before purchasing five Powerball tickets at the Union Wine & Liquor store at Union Station.
Armed with lucky numbers, Mrs. Brown and thousands of others lined up at convenience stores and liquor shops around the District yesterday in hopes of winning tonight's $215 million Powerball jackpot the third-largest prize in the multistate lottery's history.
The line of patrons including one who dreamed of buying the White House and another who would start a children's charity with the winnings remained steady from the store's opening at 9 a.m., said manager Jose Romero.
Mr. Romero estimated the store would sell up to $15,000 worth of tickets, and that's probably less than what a jackpot of this magnitude would draw outside the holiday season.
Vanessa Newton, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Lottery, said there's a 52 percent chance of a top prize-winning ticket being sold in the District and the 24 states that play Powerball. Tonight's drawing will be the 16th in this cycle, which began Oct. 30.
In the Washington area, about 33 percent of the money spent for Powerball tickets goes to support the D.C. government.
The biggest Powerball win was $295.7 million for one ticket drawn in July 1998. Four persons in Indiana won the next biggest, $295 million, in August 2001. There was no winner in Wednesday's drawing when the lines also were long and the jackpot was $160 million.
A single winner of tonight's $215 million jackpot by matching the five lottery numbers and the Powerball could receive 30 annual cash payments of $7.16 million or opt for a lump-sum cash payment of $116.8 million before taxes.
Dan Dayton, 43, a computer technician, said he only plays when the jackpot is at more than $100 million. He and two co-workers chipped in $5 each, but he's not quite ready to start the children's charity he says he would if he wins.
"I'm sure it's easier to get struck by lightning five times on my way back to work," he said of his chances of winning.
Players who match the five lottery numbers will win $100,000, and the odds of winning are 1 in 2.9 million.
A hundred grand might not do for Adam Clater and Bobby Holstein, two Bureau of Labor Statistics employees in their 20s who bought tickets at Union Station yesterday. The two have worked out a system in which a jackpot ticket for one means a $7 million payday and a Nissan 350Z sports car for the other. Mr. Holstein purchased 20, and Mr. Clater, 10.
"Every time it gets this high, I'll just get $20 worth of random picks," Mr. Holstein said, adding that he would pay off his mom's house, buy her a beach house and make sure his sisters are financially secure.
But Mrs. Brown said "just part of it will do" in allowing her to pay off her bills and buy a new home.

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