A gambler with a hunch and a history of winning on past Fridays staked $10,000 on a single number in last night's Maryland lottery, putting himself in line for a possible payoff of $5,000,000.
The sum, attainable by winning a $10,000 bet at the lottery's 500 to 1 odds would have been "to my knowledge the biggest payoff anywhere in the world in a lottery," said a Maryland lottery spokesman.
The number on which the gambler, who was not immediately identified, placed his $10,000 in bets at an official lottery outlet in a southwest Baltimore shoe store was 311.
Thw winning number was 840. The gambler lost.
Brian Satisky, co-owner of the Hollinswood shoe Center where the big bet was placed, described the gambler as a heavy set man, about 70 years old, soft spoken and well dressed, who has been a lottery customer on a daily basis for about a year.
Reportedly the man had won before on Fridays whose date included the number three - Dec. 23 and Jan. 13. Yesterday's date was the Feb. 3.
Last week the gambler took Satisky aside and explained his plan. He brought in $10,000 worth of uncashed winning tickets from previous drawings. The store was specially opened on Sunday to punch out the new tickets. It took five and a half hours to punch out the 2,000 $5 tickets - the largest denomination available.
News of the huge bet, said to be the largest single wager in the 18 month history of the state lottery, soon spread, and after $2,000 more was bet by others on 311, no more bets were accepted on the number.
Skarzynski, the lottery spokesman, said betting on the number was halted on Wednesday as soon as computers showed that possible winnings equalled the lottery's $8 million reserve fund.
The $10,000 gambler hedged his bets somewhat, according to Skarzynski. He also bet $100 worth of winning tickets on 131, $100 on 113 and $800 more on other numbers not immediately known.
"I guess there are hundreds pulling for him to win," the spokesman said. "It's like a dream."
At 7:15 p.m. the winning number was drawn and that particular dream ended.
The gambler watched the drawing on television at the shoe store. When he lost, a witness said, "he didn't bat an eye."