ESSEX, MD—Filling up vending machines with snacks is his day job, Eldon Ritchie told Maryland Lottery officials.
Playing scratch-offs is something he does for fun almost every day after work. Those two pursuits connected last week, delivering a $50,000 scratch-off prize to the husband and father.
“I was working on a machine in a check-cashing place and there was this Lottery vending machine right next to it, right next to me,” the Essex resident said. “I was there a good 20 minutes so I was able to check out all of the tickets they had in there. I noticed that there was a crossword ticket. Crossword games are my favorite and the store I usually go to hadn’t had one the last time I looked.”
On his way out of AA State Hanover Check Cashing in Baltimore, Eldon purchased the Deluxe Crossword instant ticket he had spied in the machine. Although he had played the $5 game plenty of times, he sat in his truck confused about what he was seeing.
“I said to myself when I saw the words I had uncovered, ‘Did I scratch the wrong places?’ I knew it couldn’t really be a $50,000 winner.”
Gripping the wheel with shaking hands, Eldon drove to another Lottery retailer to verify the prize that he thought — but dared not believe — his Deluxe Crossword scratch-off was promising.
“My hands continued to shake even after I scanned it and the message told me that I’d won $50,000. Heck, they’re still shaking now – a full day later,” he said.
After taking care of a few bills with the prize, Eldon and his wife plan to share their winnings with their kids and grandchildren.
Seven more $50,000 top prizes remain among the Deluxe Crossword tickets on sale in Maryland stores. The game debuted in August. Eldon’s lucky Lottery store, AA State Hanover Check Cashing at 2830 South Hanover Street in Baltimore, can also celebrate his big win. The store earned a $500 bonus for selling a top-prize instant ticket.