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Thousands Parlay Air Tragedy Into Connecticut Lottery Win

July 24, 1996| Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — Lottery players in Connecticut gambled on tragedy over the weekend and ended up breaking the bank.

On Saturday, thousands of people who played the three-digit daily lottery put their money on 8-0-0, the flight number of the TWA jumbo jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean last week.

When that number hit, lottery officials said they had to pay out slightly more than $1 million in winnings, about three times what was wagered. The state took in $344,277 in ticket sales and lost $678,170.

"They pretty much broke the bank on us," said Jim Heckart, a claims supervisor with Connecticut Lottery Corp. "We're usually ahead of the game."

The state normally pulls in an average of $340,000 for the daily number and makes a profit of between $170,000 and $270,000.

Of those who bought tickets for Saturday's drawing, 3,026 people bet the "800" number "straight" and another 3,182 chose the number in a three-way box, which means they would win with 800, 080 or 008, Heckart said.

Gamblers who spent 50 cents on a straight bet won $250 while people with three-way plays won $83.50 per bet.

Some local ticket vendors said they were not surprised.

"Every time there's a crash, people play [crash-related] numbers for about a week," said Pete Sheth, a manager at Zyn Stationers Inc. in Greenwich. "It's sad."

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