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Bel Air man wins Ravens seats for 20 years

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Vernon Miller Jr.'s mouth dropped. He was quite literally speechless when he saw his name appear on the Jumbotron at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday morning.

Miller, a 74-year old Bel Air resident, had just found out he won a pair of club level seats to watch the hometown favorite Baltimore Ravens run, block, pass and tackle their way through every home game for the next 20 seasons.

"Oh my God... Go Ravens," was all Miller could mutter initially, as he threw up a big thumbs up, while sitting in the stands with the other finalists for the big prize. "I hope I live long enough to see 20 years worth of games."

Miller was one of two Bel Air residents who were finalists in the grand prize drawing held at the stadium for the Maryland Lottery's Ravens Mega Power promotion.

The grand prize includes season tickets for 20 years beginning with the 2014-2015 season. In addition to the two club-level seats, a parking pass is included.

Players of the lottery's Mega Millions or Powerball could spend $1 extra on their ticket, adding a "Megaplier" with a Ravens logo to their ticket, according to the Maryland Lottery promotion website.

Non-winning Megaplier tickets could be entered into the contest on the Ravens' website to win cash, tickets and "unique game day experiences."

Lottery officials selected four Megaplier ticket contestants as Fan of the Game during the 2013 season. Each fan won $5,000, plus $1,000 for each Ravens interception.

Miller; Cheryl Rice, 57, of Bel Air; Dorothy Nazarenus, of Baltimore; and Danilo "Dan Natividad, of Baltimore, were the four Fan of the Game winners last season, with Miller being the last to be chosen.

For the past five years, the Baltimore Ravens, in conjunction with the Maryland Lottery, have worked together to award the Seats for 20 Years Prize to a lucky fan, said Kate Kasabula, Baltimore Ravens senior manager of client services.

"Some of the fans that play the lottery aren't typically season tickets holders," Kasabula said. "Vernon now has the opportunity to go to games for the next 20 years at a sold out stadium. That's a unique opportunity."

Kasabula said she would not disclose the value of the tickets, calling them simply "priceless."

According to the Ravens website, one club level season ticket for the 2014-15 season is priced between $1,800 to $3,650 for two preseason and eight regular season games. The price, which does not include the cost of the personal seat license, varies depending on location, with the lowest in the end zones and the highest at midfield.

Miller, a retired maintenance mechanic for a refinery, said he does not remember which day he purchased the lottery ticket that led to Friday's jackpot. He said he normally buys about one Mega Millions or Powerball ticket per week.

A big Ravens fan, Miller said he watches the games every week, often alongside his wife, Pat, who he said he will be his plus-one sharing his season tickets.

He said his favorite Ravens players are former linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterback Joe Flacco.

According to Carol Everett, spokesperson for the Maryland Lottery, the grand prize drawing is completely random. She said there is a computerized system, which selected a grand prize winner among the four finalists.

Before the announcement, Miller and the other finalists, had an opportunity to take a tour of M&T Bank Stadium. Miller said he got to sit in Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh's chair, visit the press box, walk onto the field and see the locker room.

Miller said he has watched just one Ravens game from the M&T Bank Stadium previously. He said a few years ago, a friend invited him to a heated game of the Ravens against the Indianapolis Colts, which have a long-term rivalry after the Colts, who formerly played in Baltimore, relocated suddenly in the 1980s.

"It was a close game, but we lost right at the end. I was disappointed," Miller said. "We lost with a kick at the end of the game.

Miller said, he is ecstatic he will get to see some wins at the stadium. He said he hopes the Ravens can make it to another Super Bowl win during the 20 years he'll have seats at the stadium.

"I hope they make it to the Super Bowl; they've got the talent," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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