Lucky seven hit it big yesterday with the Maryland Lottery's afternoon Pick 3 number of 777.

It was the seventh time that 777 has been drawn since the Pick 3 game started in 1976, said deputy lottery director Carroll H. Hynson Jr.

Because so many people bet 777, there was an unusually high payout of $969,000 for 3,907 winners. That represents 484 percent of the money actually bet. The total falls far short of the record for a Pick 3 payout, which was $6 million when 222 hit in June 1990.

Yesterday's beneficiaries are likely lottery loyalists who regularly play the same three numbers, Mr. Hynson said.

"I think it's your more traditional players," he said. "The players who started when Pick 3 was a street game played on the docks in inner cities of the East Coast. A lot of our grandparents played that game."

A winning ticket yesterday paid between $25 and $500, depending on how the bet was placed. Because the payout is less than $600, winners can redeem their tickets at the store where they bought them. Store owners might also luck out because winners often spend their prize money at the store where they bought the ticket. "We're always happy when we have a big hit on the Pick 3 because it's good for our retailers," Mr. Hynson said.

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