Photo Essays - Winners All - by Rick Dantes

These lottery winner stories - and many others - are documented in Rick Dandes' new book, JACKPOT, An Insider's Guide to the Lottery. It is available for $9.95 (plus shipping and handling) only by phone at (toll free) 1-866-GO-LOTTO. Rick Dandes, a former writer and editor at TV Guide, is the managing editor of LOTTOpeople, a magazine about lottery winners and players.

Everybody who plays the lottery has a dream. That's 125 million of us - according to a recent UCLA survey - playing state-sponsored legal lotteries at least once a year, all out for the same thing: to win a grand prize.

Of course, most of us don't win big jackpots. The odds are stacked against that. But it is the dream that impels us to keep on playing. Because, as you'll see in this column, people do win, and often in the most extraordinary ways.

Take, for instance, the story of Bubba Uquhart and his wife Janine. Bubba didn't play his lucky numbers when he went to the Immokalee, Florida (near Naples) Handy Store intending to play the Fantasy 5 game on April 28, 2000. At first, he felt bad about that. But things don't always turn out as they're supposed to. Or maybe they do.

It is the dream that impels us to keep on playing.

Here's what happened: the sales clerk hit the wrong button and Bubba got five Mega-Money tickets. "I never play Mega-Money," he said later. Not that Bubba has any complaints. One of those MEGA-Money tickets matched all five numbers and was worth $358,000.

And how is this for fate? A woman named Maria walks into a convenience store in Miami and buys a lotto ticket that turns out to be a winner. Another Maria on the same day in 1999, in the same store, buys a lotto ticket with the same number as the first Maria. They split $15 million. According to Florida lottery officials, this is the first time two different players with the same first name bought winning tickets at the same store.

Check us out next month for more winning lottery stories. If you have any questions about lotteries, or if YOU have won a lottery and want to talk about it, write to Jackpot, care of this newspaper.

Happy Times - Copyright © 2002