Charles Puryear, a 53-year-old security guard at the National Labor Relations Board, and Mara Spade, a 37-year-old Chevy Chase widow, last night won $1 million each in the D.C. Instant Lottery's first million-dollar-prize drawing.
Puryear, the father of eight children, told a large crowd at the Sheraton-Washington Hotel that he felt "like a million dollars." He and Spade, a banquet bartender at the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, each will receive $50,000 a year for the next 20 years.
Spade, who was too nervous to attend the drawing, instead sent her daughter, Darah Velie, 14, to represent her.
"She didn't want to get all excited about it," the girl, a freshman at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, said.
Reached by telephone at her home minutes after the drawing, Spade told a reporter, "I thought the only chance I'd have of winning was not to go. I took a walk, a long walk, about two hours.
"I don't really know what that means winning the lottery . I've never had that much money before." Spade has two children and has been a widow since 1974. She said she would use the money to "repay some debts and help a lot of people who have helped me." Besides her daughter, Darah, Spade has a son, Doug, 16, who lives with a grandmother in Pennsylvania. Spade said she resumed the use of her maiden name after her husband died.
Her million-dollar ticket was one of five lottery tickets she bought at the Thomas Circle Peoples drugstore with a $5 tip she received from "a man at a banquet" about "three months ago."
"I can remember the room at the Sheraton-Carlton and I can remember the man, but I don't know what party it was," Spade said.
Three of the tickets she purchased that day were winners, including the $100 winner that made her eligible for the $1 million drawing, but after purchasing about five more tickets at various times, Spade said, she decided "it the lottery wasn't working for me."
Spade's daughter was mobbed by reporters as she tried to talk on a hotel pay phone with her mother. "Mom, I love you," Darah shouted into the phone. "Come down here. Look nice, because there's a lot of people here."
But the girl said her mother had decided not to come to the hotel because "she doesn't want to be popular or famous."
Puryear disappeared into the ballroom throng and left the hotel shortly after the drawing but spoke with a reporter at his Northeast home about 1 a.m. today.
Puryear, wearing a red and white D.C. Lottery cap and clutching an envelope containing his first millionaire's check and documents certifying him a winner, said that his first feeling was one of "absolute relief. I'd been thinking about it all week."
"It hasn't hit me," Puryear said. "I'll probably get up in the morning, get on the roof and start hollering."
Puryear, a native of Boydton, Va., and a D.C. resident for 36 years, said he bought his winning ticket at a Peoples drugstore at 10th and Monroe streets NE. The million dollars won't change him, though, he said.
"Fifty-thousand dollars a year. What can you do with it? Really, just eat and sleep and make a down payment on a home. Why should $50,000 a year change me. These days it's just a decent wage. I'll keep working. You never have enough money." The winnings will pay for "a few more things this Christmas" for his family, he said.
And Puryear--the father of four sons and four daughters ranging in age from 12 to 26--said he'd like to pay for college educations for his three youngest children still at home, one son who attends Anacostia High School and two boys in elementary school.
As far as spending some of the money on an extravagance or two, Puryear said: "I don't do a lot of dreaming."
Now that he's won the big prize, Puryear said he'd give other people a chance--but he noted that he has a $100 winner in the second lottery--which makes him eligible for another $1 million drawing.
As the number of contestants eligible for the $1 million prizes slowly dwindled from 20 down to a handful, the remaining ones squirmed in their seats, hoping their names would not be called for one of the last of the $1,000 prizes. Puryear said afterward that he was praying.
Comedian Alan King, who was the emcee for the event, frequently clowned with the remaining few, telling the increasingly excited crowd, "We got to get some cold water and throw on them. They're all in heat. Some of these people have been born again three or four times tonight."
When the comedian learned that one of the last finalists, Bernice M. Blunt, had a large contingent of her seven children and 15 grandchildren in the audience, he asked them to stand and then jokingly ordered them to "sit down and don't be greedy." Blunt won $1,000.
But four other D.C. Lottery players walked away with larger prizes, albeit not the $1 million bonanzas they were hoping for. Vernelle Nelson, 32, an administrative clerk at Howard University who lives in Northeast Washington, and Johnny Martino, 46, a Southeast Washington resident and a plumber with a Rosslyn firm, both won $25,000.
Theodore F. (Teddy) Allen, 29, a television repairman who lives in Northeast Washington, and Bonnie L. Somers, 21, an Arlington resident who is a secretary at the FBI, each won $10,000.
The other $1,000 winners were: Corrine E. Askew, Alexandria; Vincent L. Dodson, Beaver Heights; Wallace R. Otterson, Fairfax; Paul B. Gray, Arlington; Derrick J. Osborne, Fort Washington; Samuel March Jr., Washington; Abdul R. Koroma, Washington; Leroy L. Armstrong, Washington; David E. Marshall, Colmar Manor; Frances Gwendolyn Cowan, Clinton; Pilar Ruiz, Springfield; Shaikh Osman, Washington, and Alberto Martinez, Arlington.
The drawing for the two $1 million prize winners was the culmination of the District's first lottery since voters approved its creation in a 1980 referendum. It is the first form of legalized gambling in the nation's capital in more than 75 years.
More than 19 million $1 tickets were sold in the two-month-long game that ran from late August to late October and led to last night's elaborate production to pick both million-dollar winners.
More than 4,000 lottery ticket agents and friends and relatives of the 20 finalists jammed a ballroom at the Sheraton-Washington Hotel. The drawing was timed to coincide with last night's 11 o'clock newscasts on the city's television stations.
Games Production Inc., the company hired by the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board to run the day-to-day operations of the lottery, hired King and singer Melba Moore to entertain the noisy, enthusiastic crowd before the prize drawings.
The firm also gave away a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass and a seven-day Caribbean vacation to two of the ticket agents. All of the approximately 1,100 agents licensed to operate in the city were invited to last night's program and to participate in their own door-prize-type drawing. Games Production also donated $50,000 to a variety of District charities.
"I guess this is the District of Columbia's answer to Reaganomics," King joked. "Talk about trickle-down economics. It's trickled down to 20."
But he warned the contestants that the Internal Revenue Service would be taking "a small bite" out of their winnings--actually 20 percent. The comedian described the tax bite as "more like Jaws III."
Both million-dollar winners and the 18 others who were finalists for the big prizes helped determine their own fate in a complex scheme designed to ensure that no one would enjoy an edge. The names of all 20 were placed in white plastic balls, which then were dropped into red flannel pouches with gold drawstrings.
The pouches in turn were dumped into a vibrating tumbler, which rotated continually as the stage show progressed. One by one, the contestants reached into the tumbler, pulled out one of the pouches and placed it unopened on a large display board with flashing white lights that listed the numerical designations of the prizes to be awarded--14 $1,000 prizes, two $10,000 prizes, two $25,000, and two for $1 million.
Thus, at least the contestants who plucked the first of the red pouches from the tumbler had a chance to put them by the $1 million designations if they thought the pouch contained their own names. The second and fourth finalists did just that,placing their pouches in the $1 million spots. The contents of the pouches next to the lesser amounts were drawn first to determine the first winners, and then finally the names of the $1 million winners.
Against what were astronomically longer odds than the winning of $1 million in the lottery, three of the 20 finalists were FBI employes. There also was a television repairman, a Prince George's County schoolteacher, a high-level bureaucrat with the U.S. Forest Service, two retirees, a liquor store owner, a security guard, a houseboy, a plumber and a busboy, among others.
The finalists made it to last night's drawing by buying a lottery ticket that turned out to carry a $100 prize on it during the D.C. Lottery's initial instant winners game that ran from Aug. 25 to Oct. 20.
D.C. lottery players have about a 1-in-10 chance of buying a winning ticket, with prizes starting at $2. A total of 46 percent of the gross revenues is awarded as prizes, about the same as that in lotteries elsewhere in the U.S., but substantially less than in other forms of legalized gambling.
The remainder of the revenue from the game goes to the city treasury (30 percent), to ticket agents like those attending last night's drawing (6 percent) and to cover operating expenses (18 percent).