Julia Lucas, a $14,000-a-year accountant at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says her lucky number is three and so she always buys her D.C. Lottery tickets in sets of three.
Yesterday, Lucas said, she "snuck off from work" and became more convinced than ever that three is her number when her name was the third drawn of 20 people who now are eligible to win one of the lottery's two $1 million prizes in a grand prize drawing next week.
The 20 names were plucked out of a rotating plexiglass drum from among those of 5,567 lottery players who had won $100 or $200 in the D.C. Double game that was completed early last month.
About 2,000 people, many of them with entries in the preliminary drawing and visions of winning $50,000 a year for 20 years, gathered on the steps of the District Building and in the middle of blocked-off Pennsylvania Avenue NW to watch as three D.C. City Council members picked 20 white envelopes out of the drum.
Because nearly 24 million tickets were sold in the D.C. Double game, the odds against winning one of the $1 million prizes are about 12 million to 1. But as City Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) reached into the drum and pulled out the first five envelopes, she may have overcome similar odds when the first four names she selected were all her constituents.
"This is the best thing I ever did," said Winter, the ever-alert politician. "Don't you forget I read your name. I need you."
By the time all 20 of the finalists were named, eight turned out to be D.C. residents, while there were eight from Maryland and four Virginians. They now will compete in another drawing, in which the million-dollar prizes will be awarded, on April 15--just hours before federal income tax returns are due. Twelve of the other 18 finalists will win at least $1,000, while two will get $5,000 apiece and the other four a total of $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000.
Seven of the 20 finalists, including Lucas, 45, were in the crowd as their names were drawn and most couldn't stop beaming with delight as they contemplated what might be theirs.
"All my coworkers said I was so lucky that they were sure I'd win something," said Brenda Hubbard, a 25-year-old secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation. "The time I won $100 to gain entry into yesterday's preliminary drawing I needed change to play the office football pool" and bought two lottery tickets in the process.
If she wins one of the big prizes, Hubbard, who makes $16,300 a year, said she would use part of the money to help build the home that she and her husband are planning in Capitol Heights.
Nathaniel Russ, 50, who makes $36,000 a year as an administrative officer at the National Security Agency, raised his arms in a victory salute when his name was called first. He said that if he wins one of the million-dollar prizes, he will give part of it to the American Diabetes Association because his son Mark, 18, is a diabetic.
Among the other finalists who attended yesterday's drawing are Murray S. Saval, 34, who makes $30,000 a year while working for Saval-Director Inc., his family's wholesale meat distributorship; Manuel G. Castelo, 40, an out-of-work butler; Ellis P. Mayo, 67, a retired D.C. government job interviewer, and Napolean Valentine, 63, a retired Postal Service forklift operator.
The other finalists, not in attendance yesterday, are:
Bridgett Brown, Washington; Rhodesia N. Cobbs, Washington; Elmer A. Jackola, Culpeper, Va.; Charles A. Mackie, Adelphi; Stuart N. Scheer, Potomac; Robbert Nachtweh, Vienna; Helen R. Shirley, Orange, Va.; James M. Saitta, New Carrollton; Saundra D. Hylton, Washington; Thomas G. Gregg Jr., Springfield; Lincoln Glover, Washington; Edith F. Wilson, New Carrollton; and Kenneth M. Carson, Bowie. CAPTION: Pictures 1 and 2, Nathaniel Russ yells as his name is pulled by D.C. City Council member Nadine Winter making him eligible for the D.C. Lottery's $1 million drawing. Photos by Gerald Martineau--The Washington Post