- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

Joe Colbert buys three or four Maryland Pick 3 lottery tickets a day.

He says that despite losing hope that he will hit the big money — such as that up for grabs in last night’s $180 million Mega Millions jackpot — several $40 winning tickets through the years keep him coming back.

He spends 50 cents on each of the tickets, and the winnings he receives go right back into more tickets, he said.

Mr. Colbert, 72, of Landover bought a Mega Millions ticket yesterday at Burke’s Liquors on Landover Road, but he’s not too hopeful about the 1 in 135 million odds.

“Somebody’s going to win,” he said. “It’s not going to be me. If I can’t hit three, how am I going to hit six [correct numbers]?”

Elisha McCollough, on the other hand, plays the lottery only when the jackpot gets well up there. The last time the New Carrollton resident played was in December, when the Powerball jackpot was at $215 million. Powerball is a multistate game in which the District participates. Tonight it has a drawing that could be worth $95 million to someone.

Yesterday, Mrs. McCollough said she was feeling pretty good about her chances after purchasing a ticket at New Carrollton Liquors.

“I just do it if it’s big,” she said. “I play the same numbers.”

Last night’s drawing, which was for a pot of money that has been building since April 25, attracted those who spend a dollar or two on the lottery nearly every day and people who take a gamble once or twice a year.

Mega Millions is played in 10 states, including Maryland and Virginia.

Customers weren’t fooling themselves about the likelihood of matching the five balls and one Mega Ball that are pulled, but they said it was worth a shot.

“I play maybe three or four times a week,” said Rickey Johnson, 30, a student at Tesst College of Technology who laid down $5 for last night’s drawing. “It’s a dollar and a dream,”

Mr. Johnson, who lives in New Carrollton, said he spends about $10 a week on the Mega Millions and scratch-off tickets. It’s common for him to win a few dollars in a week on the scratch-offs, and that makes it fun enough for him to continue playing, he said.

He has never won a substantial amount on scratch-offs or in the big drawings, he said.

John Morton of Landover plays daily. He said he is sticking to his pattern of spending a few bucks on Pick 4 lotto tickets. He, too, said he plays for fun and maybe to pick up a few extra dollars.

“I don’t need that kind of money,” he said of the $180 million pot.

Mr. Morton, 72, said he has won small amounts of money “quite a few times.”

James Bilney, 46, of Ellicott City, Md., was feeling a bit more upbeat about the possibility of striking it rich, saying he seldom plays the lottery but was feeling “extremely lucky” yesterday.

“It’s got to be the big” one, Mr. Bilney said.

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