$26 million reasons to stand in Lotto line

By LESLIE MORIARTY

Herald Writer

Who wants to be a millionaire? Just about everybody.

At least it seems that way to the people standing in the long Lotto lines and to the clerks behind the counters.

"It’s crazy," said Phyllis Winn, clerk at the Shell gasoline station and minimart at 208th and the Bothell-Everett Highway. "Ever since it got above $15 million, people have been going wild buying tickets."

With today’s Lotto winnings stacked at a state record $26 million, ticket sales have been even greater, Winn said.

"People are coming in here and laying out $100 and buying 100 tickets all at once," she said. "They’re pooling their money at work and buying in bulk, hoping to have better chances of winning."

This is the state’s highest Lotto jackpot since the game was established in 1982. Proceeds go into the state’s general fund that supports, among other things, education, social services and parks.

With today’s Lotto, if there is a single winner, that person can choose the cash option and take home $13 million right away. After taxes, the payment equals $9.36 million. State and federal law requires that 28 percent be withheld for income taxes.

If the winner chooses yearly payments, they will look forward to $748,000 after taxes for 25 years. That’s equal to $2,050 a day.

The previous highest jackpot was $24 million, in December 1998 and again on Wednesday.

Regardless of having to pay taxes, one thing’s for sure. Everybody thinks they’ve got the winning ticket.

Take Angie Liotart of Bothell. The software company worker bought her $5 worth of tickets Friday at the Shell station.

"I know I’m going to win," she said. "It’s about time I had some luck."

Liotart, who picks her own numbers most of the time, plays when the money gets big. If she wins, she knows what she wants.

"A new car," she said as she headed toward her old beater. "But I’d keep working, at least long enough for my co-workers to congratulate me."

At Fred Meyer at Thrasher’s Corner, customer service manager Karen Carpenter said the store had to add a third clerk to the Lotto booth in the past couple of days.

"It’s pretty busy," she said. "Especially between 3 and 7 p.m. The line’s all the way out the door then."

But customers aren’t put off by the line.

"They’re all just so excited," she said. "And they are all sure they are going to be the one to win.

"It’s just such a big deal right now that frankly I’ll be glad if somebody does win and things can get back to normal."

She’ll be extra glad if it’s one of her customers who wins.

"Several people have told me they’ll remember me and bring me some money,’ she said. "But, really, we’re not allowed to take it."

Clerks at other Lotto booths tell tales of promises of houses and cars and vacations if they sell the winning ticket.

"I had one guy say he’d bring me a stack of money," Winn said. "Another guy said he’d take me on TV to get the big check. But then he said that would be the last I’d ever see of him."

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