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Everyone dreams about the numbers

Jim Grant/Tahoe TribuneDr. Max Miller holds his 20 quick picks before Wednesday's lottery worth $85 million.
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In all the time she’s lived in the state, in all the years it’s been around, South Shore resident Candie Russell had never bought a California lottery ticket.

That is until 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, when she plopped down a dollar bill for a chance at $85 million.

“No one has ever asked me until today if I’ve ever played the lottery or if I’ve ever bought a ticket. All someone had to do was ask. Now I feel lucky,” said Russell, who stopped by Alpine Liquor and Wine on Lake Tahoe Boulevard after work.



Russell, who works at Hot Cha Cha clothing store at Caesars Tahoe, joined perhaps millions statewide Wednesday who jammed stores, gas stations and minimarts to buy their chance at the lucky draw.

Those numbers, drawn at 8 p.m. , where 4, 6, 21, 36, 46 and the mega-number 11.




Store clerk Michael Tajeran said that 2,242 tickets had been sold at the store since Monday. He predicted that number would swell to 3,500. If the winning ticket is drawn from the store, the owner stands to win $425,000 in bonus money.

Across town at 7-Eleven on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, clerk Tonie Ticknor had sold more than 400 tickets since she started work at 2 p.m.

“I would say that about everyone who has walked into the store, who is of legal age, has bought Lotto,” she said. “They’re buying $5, $10 and $20. One guy bought $50 worth.”

When the jackpot gets around $80 million, that’s when people start buying, Ticknor said. The last frenzy she saw was six months ago when the jackpot was $110 million.

Most realize that winning the lottery is a pipe dream. Still, each week, millions plunk down their dollars in the hopes of becoming instant millionaires.

“What is it, like 15 billion and one chance?” said Max Miller, a former South Lake Tahoe doctor who is in town for a ski vacation. “And still I will play. It’s all going to go toward my retirement. If I don’t win, I’ll have to work forever.”

Steve Smith, a computer specialist for South Lake Tahoe, opted to go with the lump sum cash amount, which is a little less than half the winnings, rather than having $85 million paid out every year for 26 years, minus the taxes.

“If I won, I’d pay all my bills and retire,” Smith said.

Like first-time Lotto player Russell, South Shore resident Deborah Nootbaar said she would take a trip to somewhere warm and then spend the rest of the money on family.

“Everyone has ideas of what they want to do with the money,” said the Carrows Restaurant employee. “I just want to take a long trip to a warm tropical island, then come back to work and then share it with my family.”

Houses are on the mind of 7-Eleven clerk Ticknor.

“I’d by a house and a car for my son, a house and a car for my mom and dad and invest the rest,” she said.

Russell said she would take her family to Africa where they would visit her son who is there as a Peace Corps volunteer. Asked if she would share some of her earnings with the person who asked if she had ever played, she smiled and answered, “Absolutely.”

Jeff Munson can be reached at jmunson@tahoedailytribune.com


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