- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2005

Everyone wants to win the lottery — even a U.S. senator.

Sen. Judd Gregg didn’t win the Powerball jackpot yesterday — the $340 million winning ticket was sold in Oregon — but the New Hampshire Republican was the holder of one of two winning D.C.-area tickets, each worth an $853,492 share of the prize.

The senator arrived at the D.C. Lottery’s Claim Center, 2000 14th St. NW, yesterday afternoon to pick up his check.

Mr. Gregg and another ticket holder, who had not come forward, won by buying tickets with all correct numbers except for the Powerball — one number away from the grand prize.

The three-term senator was first elected in 1992. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as New Hampshire governor. His father, Hugh Gregg, had been governor.

As a senator, the 58-year-old lawmaker earns a $158,000 salary.

His communications director, Erin Rath, said the senator was on his way to vote Monday when he stopped for gas at a Citgo station at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road Northeast and bought $20 worth of tickets.

“He was about ready to drive away,” Miss Rath said, but a station attendant stopped him and handed him the last ticket he had purchased. It was the winner.

Mr. Gregg, who was already worth more than $6 million according to his latest financial disclosures, will pay taxes on the amount, give money to several charities and contribute some in memory of his father to the Hugh Gregg Foundation, Miss Rath said.

Walking into the Senate chamber to vote against cutting government spending, the self-described fiscal conservative was laughing as colleagues and reporters ribbed him about his good fortune.

Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, came up behind Mr. Gregg and slapped him on the back as he spoke.

“No more LIHEAP,” he said, referring to the government’s assistance program to help pay heating bills for the poor.

Mr. Gregg turned to those around him and said, “As you can see, I’m being tormented by my colleagues.”

On the floor, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee laughed it up with fellow millionaires such as Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, who married into a fortune.

“He gives up a 1.2 percent salary [increase] and wins $900,000,” joked Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, referring to the automatic pay raise that the Senate declined this year.

Mr. Gregg’s wife, Kathleen, made news two years ago when two knife-wielding thieves invaded the Gregg home in McLean and forced her to a local bank. News accounts said she withdrew $4,000 for the thieves, but then escaped out a side door. The thieves were arrested two days later in New Jersey and subsequently sentenced to prison.

Nine Washington-area lottery players can collect $10,000 apiece because their tickets contained four correct numbers and the Powerball number, said Bob Hainey, the District’s lottery spokesman.

“It will be a very, very busy day at the claim center,” said Executive Director Jeanette A. Michael. “We will have extra staff on hand to cut checks and pay prizes.”

The $340 million prize was the biggest in Powerball history, which began in 1992 and is played in 27 states, the District and the Virgin Islands.

Powerball officials said the winning ticket apparently was sold in the old gold rush town of Jacksonville in southwestern Oregon. The odds of winning were one in 146 million. The $340 million can be taken in a lump sum of $110 million after taxes, or annual annuities for 30 years, and the winner has 60 days to decide.

The biggest U.S. lottery jackpot — of $363 million — was won by two ticket holders in Illinois and Michigan in 2000.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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