Baltimore Mayor William D. Schaefer is $1,183 richer this week after cashing in a Maryland Lotto ticket that matched five of the six winning numbers -- an agonizing one guess away from turning the modest-living mayor into a millionaire.
Schaefer, who an aide said had spent about $500 on weekly Lotto and daily Lottery tickets this year, was one of 207 persons who wagered $1 and picked five of the six numbers in the Sept. 8 drawing. The triumph -- his first in the lottery -- came courtesy of a lotto computer, which randomly selects numbers for those without their own sophisticated systems.
Just one person hit all six numbers -- 3, 4, 11, 12, 18 and 34 -- for the $2,290,000 jackpot. Schaefer missed the fifth number.
The mayor waited until this week to collect the check, according to his press secretary, Pat Bernstein, because he "didn't want to make a fuss about having won."
But Schaefer's attempt to slip incognito into the Maryland State Lottery office in Baltimore was not exactly successful. "When he walked in there and presented his ticket, they all shouted, 'Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor!" Bernstein said.
Schaefer, who lives in the same West Baltimore row house he was born in and vacations in a trailer in Ocean City, was at first chagrined that he had come so close to the million-dollar jackpot.
"I sat there thinking, 'This is terrible. Just one more number and I would have been a millionaire.' You forget you just won $1,100," the Associated Press quoted Schaefer as saying. Bernstein said Schaefer was unavailable for comment yesterday on his good fortune.
Schaefer, whose salary is $53,000 a year, plans to give some of his winnings to the Light Street Presbyterian Church to help the congregation pay for a new furnace and has not yet decided what to do with the balance, Bernstein said.