- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

Bessie Stockard believes in fate.

“If things are for you, then they’re for you,” said Mrs. Stockard, a school teacher in the District.

She is among thousands of area residents hoping to win tonight’s $215 million Powerball lottery drawing, which D.C. Lottery officials say is the sixth-largest jackpot in the game’s history.

Mrs. Stockard conceded that the 1-in-120 million odds make winning a long shot, but she promised the money would not be wasted.

“When you’re from a poor family, you appreciate [money] more because it’s something you did not have,” she said. “I’d probably look at [the winnings] for a week and make sure it was really there.”

Mrs. Stockard bought her tickets at the crowded Tenley Mini-Market in Northwest, where manager Dixon Kim expects longer lines today leadingup to the 10:59 p.m. drawing.

Wilder Reed, a 41-year-old utility worker, was much like Mrs. Stockard in his reasons for spending hard-earned money to buy tickets.

He drove from his home in Bowie into the District with the hope of helping his five sisters and a grandmother who lives in the Detroit projects.

“I’ve got a couple of girls in college and five other sisters who could use homes,” said Mr. Reed, who has six children and spent $55 yesterday on tickets. “I want to help my family, the community, different people and the church in any way that they need money.”

The District’s last big single-ticket winner was Ihsan Khan, a cab driver from Arlington, said Bob Hainey, a D.C. Lottery spokesman.

Mr. Khan bought his ticket at the Exxon station at 3607 M St. NW, where Powerball players yesterday hoped this would again be the lucky spot.

“I’d get a three-bedroom house,” said writer Jennifer Stylo, 26, of Arlington. “I live in a one-bedroom den now, so I’d probably want a bigger place. And I’d take trips to Paris, back and forth all the time.”

Network engineer Eddy Mitchler of Cascades, Va., said he would use the money for his daughters.

“I’d pay for their education, pay for their college,” said Mr. Mitchler, whose daughters are 1, 5 and 7 years old. “I’ve got three weddings to pay for.”

Most players had no method for picking numbers, though sisters Melissa and Kathleen Sherrod of the District used family ages and birthdays.

“I’d take care of my family, stop working, travel, and I need a new car,” said Melissa Sherrod as she pointed to an aging sedan. “Look at my car.”

Most store managers said the lines yesterday were not as long as expected with a jackpot at more than $200 million, but they expected more business today.

At an empty Shell Food Mart in Southeast, manager Sham Zia said most Powerball players arrived at midday and others would come during the evening.

The largest Powerball winner in the game’s history was Jack Whitaker of West Virginia, who won a jackpot of $314.9 million on Christmas Eve 2002, said D.C. Lottery officials.

Powerball is played in 27 states, the District and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This jackpot run, which began Aug. 18, has generated a total of $101 million for state projects.

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