It turns out that a lot of people who play the lottery like to wager repeat numbers, like 3- 3- 3 or 7-7-7. That strategy paid off big-time on Sunday, when the Pick 3 evening lottery numbers were 0- 0- 0. The bonus number “Fireball” was also a 0.
More than 10,000 people had the winning combination, more winners than usual, according to a spokesman for the Illinois Lottery. A $1 bet could net a $625 prize, he said.
Since Monday morning, the line each day to claim prize money has started forming around 6:30 a.m. outside the James R. Thompson Center. Doors there open at 8 a.m., and lottery payouts start at 8:30 a.m., a guard said. They let only about 10 people at a time go upstairs to claim their winnings.
“If I feel like a zero, I play it!” said a winner named Greg, from the Lakeview neighborhood.
None of the lucky people in line wanted to give their last names. “You don’t want people to find you and rob you,” said one young woman, who wouldn’t give her first name either.
She said she consistently plays repeat numbers — known as “triples” in the Pick 3 game or “quads” in the Pick 4 — and this is the third time she’s won playing all zeroes. But this week’s line is nothing compared to the time a few years ago when she won with 7s, she said. That time, lottery officials had winners wait in the 600-seat Assembly Hall Auditorium.
The cheerful winner wouldn’t say how much she won, but it’s a good bet it’s over $600. That’s the maximum stores and other retail lottery outlets can pay out. Those who win more have to come downtown — to stand in one of the happiest lines in the city.
Linda Lutton is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @lindalutton.