Eight finalists agree a 4-in-5 chance of share is better than a 1-in-10 chance of winning it all
While the Maine State Lottery did not draw either of Angelina Bittues' numbers Thursday evening, the Winthrop woman could still claim a piece of $2.25 million.
Bittues was one of the eight finalists in the lottery's $2.5 million Extravaganza Instant Ticket game who agreed to split the spoils from a live drawing held Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center.
The agency invited 10 finalists — each assigned two numbers — to Thursday's drawing. Each had already won $250,000 in the Extravaganza game.
When the drum roll stopped and before those gathered exhaled, Tresa Mondor, of Biddeford, was named the lucky winner.
"I hope that one of the eight of us win," Mondor said she was thinking as lottery officials stirred up the numbers.
Television cameras were rolling and celebratory music was playing. The colorful lottery signs and a giant check in the room lent to the spectacle of the occasion. Lottery officials timed the drawing to broadcast it live on evening newscasts.
Bittues appeared to be the mastermind behind the arrangement to share the winnings. Two of the finalists declined to be part of the group, Bittues said.
"Everybody's first thought was, 'yes,'" she said. "We've had good feelings, good vibes."
Bittues, who can claim $281,250 of the $2.25 million check the lottery issued Thursday on top of the $250,000 she had already won, said she planned to share much of her winnings with family members.
The Internal Revenue Service will also claim its share for taxes.
Judy and Dana Osborne, of Augusta, declined the invitation to join the eight finalists sharing the winnings.
"I wish them well," Judy Osborne said.
With the $250,000 they already won after purchasing a ticket at Galusha's in Clinton, Dana Osborne said, the Augusta couple paid off their mortgage and other outstanding bills.
"And now we'll live happily ever after," he said.
Bittues bought her winning ticket at J & S Oil in Manchester. Before winning, she said, she would stop en route to work in Portland every day to fill her gas tank, pick up a cup of coffee and buy a scratch ticket.
On her return trip, she stopped in Brunswick to do the same.
Family members were in doubt in April 2006 when she won the $250,000 prize, Bittues said.
"When I told him, he said, 'You're reading the ticket wrong,'" she said of her son. "Finally, he realized I had won."
Bittues said she has bought scratch tickets since 1974.
"I had a darn good job and could afford to do it and not hurt anybody," she said.
Amy Aiguier, of South Berwick, was ecstatic about winning more than $280,000 — and about connecting with her fellow Extravaganza Instant Ticket game finalists.
"This is amazing, awesome, crazy stuff," she said. "We met a really great group of people and we all love the state of Maine."