On Tuesday night, Mara Spade, a 37-year-old Chevy Chase woman and $13,000-a-year part-time bartender at a downtown Washington hotel, won $1 million in the D.C. Instant Lottery's first million-dollar prize drawing.
Yesterday, her tousle-haired son Doug, 16, who moved to the Philadelphia area a year ago because his mother couldn't afford the $32-an-hour tennis lessons he wanted, came home and announced, "I'd much rather live with my mother."
Mara Spade had stayed up all night after winning and was on her eighth bottle of Guinness Stout by the time her son arrived early yesterday afternoon while she contemplated her future and the $50,000 checks she will receive every November for the next 19 years.
"I think it's great," Doug said, moments after he walked into his mother's modest, white stucco home that she rents for $500 a month. "Nothing like this has ever happened to our family.
"It will be a lot happier time for my mom."
"Tell the truth, Doug," his mother admonished.
"If the money can take care of my tennis, it would be great," the teen-ager allowed.
Spade was one of two million-dollar winners at the elaborate prize drawings conducted by the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board before more than 4,000 people at the Sheraton-Washington Hotel. The other was Charles Puryear, a 53-year-old security guard at the National Labor Relations Board building who makes $12,000 a year.
Puryear, the father of four sons and four daughters, voiced some skepticism about how far the money would go.
"Fifty thousand dollars a year. What can you do with it? Really, just eat and sleep and make a down payment on a home," he said. "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."
He said he also would like to pay for college for his three children still at home and for "a few more things this Christmas."
Lottery Chairman Brant Coopersmith said two $1 million annuities have already been purchased from the Capitol Life Insurance Co. of Denver for a total of $694,348.
The insurance company will make the annual $50,000 payments to Spade and Puryear, less $10,000 for withheld taxes that will be sent to the Internal Revenue Service, from the principal and interest earned on the annuities.
Even before her son walked in the front door, Spade voiced some anxiety about his possible return to her home, which she now shares with her daughter, Darah Velie, 14, a freshman at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
Darah participated in the final drawing on behalf of her mother because Spade said "deep down I felt the only chance I had of winning was by not going and it worked." Spade resumed use of her maiden name in 1974 when her husband died of a heart attack at age 29 on the beach in Ocean City.
Spade said she had grown close to her daughter in the last year and described her as one who "values closeness, warmth, compassion."
But she said Doug, who now lives with the wealthy parents of his best friend in the Philadelphia suburb of Willow Grove, is "totally opposite from my daughter. He valued money above everything else. He wanted tennis lessons at $32 an hour and I said, 'Forget it.'
"I was too poor for him," she said. "I don't want him to come back and live just because I have money now. I'm going to help him wherever I can. But he's got to live here for the right reasons, because he wants to know me as a person."
As for herself, Spade said she hopes to give some of the money to friends who have helped her as she coped without enough money and with admitted problems of too much drinking and daily marijuana use. She said that in the last three years she has put her drinking bouts and marijuana behind her.
For now, she said, she wants to visit Long Island to see whether her dream of owning a home on the ocean can become a reality.