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Pastor Discovers Winning Lottery Ticket in Collection Plate

Mar 29, 2011 – 12:52 PM
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Susanna Baird Contributor

An anonymous, generous parishioner dropped a winning scratch ticket into a collection plate on March 13, making one struggling Baltimore church $30,000 richer.

Maryland Lottery officials didn't release the name of the church's 55-year-old pastor but said in a press release he was unfamiliar with Cash Craze Crossword. After discovering the ticket among the cash in the plate, he sought help determining if the ticket was a winner.

It was. The anonymous bettor paid $3 for the scratch ticket and won the top prize: $30,000.

Pastor Discovers Winning Lottery Ticket in Collection Plate
Maryland Lottery
A Cash Craze Crossword scratch-off ticket worth $30,000 was dropped in the collection plate at a Baltimore church.
"I have no idea who did this," the pastor told lottery officials. "I really have no clue."

The pastor will put the money toward operating expenses at the financially strapped church and hopes to give some to members of the congregation needing assistance.

In an attempt to go forth and multiply, the pastor planned to take $5 from the winnings to buy Mega Millions tickets for last Friday's $319 million jackpot. (That prize was won by a group of state workers in Albany, N.Y.)

A similarly generous lottery winner in Indiana used her $100,000 scratch ticket winnings to bring her country music hero to town and raise money for a local nonprofit.

Janice Willis of Marion, Ind., won $100,000 last June playing the Hoosier Lottery's $100,000 Taxes Paid game. The widower splurged on Gene Watson. The country music legend, crooner of such hits as "Farewell Party" and "Love in the Hot Afternoon," performed at a local Veterans of Foreign Wars center last weekend, courtesy of Willis' winnings.

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Willis, a widow and retired fish lure painter, arranged the entire sold-out event, from the pre-show advertising to the decorations and the eats -- her famous brownies. She donated all concert proceeds to Help the Hopeful, a Marion-based charity helping people suffering from illness or other setbacks.

Watson signed several items to be auctioned for the nonprofit. He told The Boot he enjoys playing private shows, though he's never before performed one courtesy of a winning lottery ticket.

"We do often get some great fans who hire us to perform for their birthday or an anniversary party," he acknowledges. "We always enjoy those kind of special shows where you have some time to meet the guests at the party and give them a very special moment."

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