- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2016

If luck be a lady tonight in the $540 million Mega Millions lottery, she very well could appear at the Tenley Market on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest Washington.

Lottery officials cite the tiny liquor store in Tenleytown as the luckiest retailer in the D.C. area, with more than a dozen winners.

And its patrons swear by the place.

“It’s a lucky store indeed. I buy here all the time. Trust me. I win all the time,” said Tenley Market customer Steven Adekoya.

Mr. Adekoya wasn’t blowing smoke: The Liberian immigrant has won $5,000 twice, and most recently collected $10,000, all from tickets bought at the cramped convenience store.

And he isn’t the only one. Customer Thomas Karr won $1 million in 2014, and Jeffrey Clemente won $379,250 just last month.

With its buzzing fluorescent lights and rows of cheap candy bars, the little shop on the corner has plastered its walls with white sheets of paper — each representing a winning ticket sold there. Would-be jackpot winners flocked to the store this week to get their piece of Tenley-Market luck in the Mega Millions and Powerball lottery drawings.

“I saw someone win $3,000 three days ago from the scratch-off. Three weeks ago somebody won $1,000,” said Dong Hyun Kim, the store’s 25 year-old cashier.

Even its employees are not immune to the magic of Tenley Market. Last year Mr. Kim got a nice tip for simply being bored.

“I was waiting for my boss and she came kind of late, and I was waiting and decided to play a [scratch-off] ticket, and it was $1,000,” he said.

All this talk about the luck of the lottery raises the question, Why hasn’t anyone won the Mega Millions jackpot in the previous 34 consecutive, twice-weekly drawings?

It comes down to the odds and the odds for getting the six Mega Millions numbers are 1 in 259 million. That means you’re more likely to hit a hole in one in golf (1-in-12,500 odds), be struck by lightning this year (1-in-960,000 odds), see a UFO (1-in-3 million odds) or be attacked by a shark (1-in-3.75 million odds) than hit the jackpot.

Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, said the most recent jackpot winner was in March, making this the longest rollover stretch in the game’s history.

Tonight’s $540 million jackpot is the third-largest in Mega Millions’ 14-year history. Its largest — $656 million — was won in March 2012.

Overall, it is the seventh-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, lottery officials say. The biggest jackpot was Powerball’s $1.6 billion drawing in January.

Superstition often dictates players’ choices of numbers. But the best strategy for securing all the cash is to let the lottery computer do the hard work, says Mike Breen of the American Mathematical Society.

“You might pick a birth date or your kid’s birthday, [but] someone else might pick that as well. If you don’t want to split, then you ought to let the machine pick it for you where it doesn’t have any bias for birth dates. To maximize your winnings, use the quick-pick option,” the mathematician says.

The quick-pick numbers don’t really improve anyone’s odds for winning, but the slim chances for success haven’t daunted the players.

“I would like to take the cash and help as [many] people as I can help. I believe in that. Call it fantasy if you want, but I think I’m gonna win. Because if you play it, there’s a possibility. It may be one in a million, but you never know,” said Tenley Market’s Mr. Adekoya.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tonight’s drawing will be held at 11 p.m. EDT.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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