The Washington Post

The winning number of pennies on the floor at Lincoln

It took 799,997 pennies to cover the floor at Lincoln. (James M. Thresher/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Exactly 2,838 guesses later, Popovsky has a winner: Capitol Hill resident Alida Sanchez, the director of brand development and partnerships for the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. Her count of 799,997 coins matched the estimate provided by the American restaurant’s designer, Maggie O’Neill, says Popovsky, who e-mailed Sanchez with the good news July 11 -- but heard nothing until this afternoon, when an impatient reporter went on Facebook to see if there was an Alida Sanchez who might have dined at Lincoln.

There was.

“I’m very, very surprised,” says Sanchez, who figures she must have left an incorrect e-mail address on her ballot the evening she celebrated a business-related anniversary party at Lincoln. The cash prize is unexpected, she says; “I thought it would be dinner at the restaurant. Great!”

Did Popovsky ever think he’d have to part with the money? “I always thought someone would guess the number. With all the couch mathematicians out there, it was bound to happen.”

The restaurateur says he’s sticking with a similar theme for his next promotion, “a yearlong penny collection for my favorite D.C. charity.”

See more photos of Lincoln .

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.

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