On Wednesday night, Almerta Williams suddenly became much richer – roughly $2 million richer.
The Edgewood resident, who lives on Mount Vernon Court, was announced as the winner in the latest Powerball game by Maryland Lottery late Thursday afternoon.
She had bought the winning ticket at Herb's Deli & Spirits, just down the road from her home on Hanson Road in Edgewood. Williams got all the white balls and only missed the Powerball, the Maryland Lottery said.
Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said it was a second-tier prize, which means Williams won a $1 million ticket that was doubled to $2 million.
Two winners – one in Arizona and one in Missouri – will split the nearly $588 million jackpot.
Williams, 55, could not be reached by phone, but told the Maryland Lottery that her win was actually a mistake.
"I thought I played the numbers that matched the birthdays of my family, but accidentally filled in a wrong number," she said, according to a Lottery news release.
Williams joked that it was her bad eyes that led to the error in her favor, and thought at first she had only won $200,000.
She said she was so eager to come in to claim her winnings but was so anxious she'd lose her ticket that she nervously slept with her purse. She was accompanied to Lottery headquarters in Baltimore Thursday with her two daughters and a niece.
Williams told the lottery officials she wants to buy a new house and an 80-inch TV but plans to keep working as a custodian.
The winning ticket was the hot topic of conversation among customers and employees at Herb's Thursday morning.
Ken Foster, an employee at Herb's, said he did not even know the store had sold a winning ticket until he was approached by news media Thursday. The store will get $5,000 because the winner chose the Power Play option, according to the Maryland Lottery.
Foster did not know which employee might have sold the ticket.
"I walked through the door, was told we had sold a $2 million winner," he said, speaking before the winner was announced. "I just hope it went to somebody who needs it."
He did not know of any similar big wins in the liquor store's 15-year existence, although he recalled another customer who did not realize he had won $50,000 in a Bonus Match 5 game about six months ago.
Foster said the store always gets a lot of lottery customers but expects it to be even bigger now.
"It's going to be crazy. The lottery here is going to be off the hook, as you might say," he said, noting a couple of people had already come in to buy tickets after they heard about the winning sale.
Foster expected the store to eventually get a banner recognizing it as the site of a winning ticket.
"I am sure it's going to be put up somewhere," he said, adding he was excited to hear about the prize.
"I think it's fantastic. I think it's the cool effect, too," he said.
Some customers Thursday morning were sorry to hear they had been so close to getting a huge pay-off.
"I wish it was me," Walt Washington said with a big smile. As the owner of Walt's Barber Shop next door, he said he buys lottery tickets at Herb's all the time.
"I was pissed, but I was happy," he said, trying to describe the mixed emotions of many Herb's customers. "I just thought of all the times that it could have been me."
Williams said he would like the winner to come forward.
"Maybe I'll cut their hair," he joked.
Williams' win comes almost exactly a year after another Harford County resident, Jose Antonetti of Havre de Grace, won $1 million playing Powerball.
In September 2011, a couple from Abingdon won a $108.8 million Powerball jackpot. They have never been publicly identified.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun