Charles “Buck” and Pat Hofferbert of Rosedale visit the Baltimore Museum
In 1973, a loaf of bread cost 27 cents, a postage stamp would set you back 8 cents and a gallon of gas sold for 45 cents. No wonder, then, that jaws dropped at reports of the new Maryland Lottery’s plans to host a Millionaire Party on January 31.
Lucky Lottery players Charles “Buck” and Pat Hofferbert of Rosedale joined 100 other hopeful players at that party 40 years ago and they still have the photos to prove it. The proud couple recently brought a scrapbook loaded with lottery letters, photos and news clippings to the Maryland Lottery’s 40th Anniversary exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Their memories of that fateful party mesh beautifully with the vibrant “40 Years / 40 Stories” exhibit.
The Lottery selected the lucky 100 finalists by drawing unique numbers printed on 50-cent Twin Win tickets sold statewide. Each of the finalists won $500 instantly plus entry to the party and a chance to become the Lottery’s first $1 million prize winner.
“A buddy told me the number for the next finalist was 7-4-7, and I just knew that I had that ticket,” Buck recalled. “I remembered those numbers because they matched the ones I had on a tackle box I had just bought.”
That evening, excitement grew with each name called. Drawing winners traded in their original $500 check for sums that climbed higher and closer to the grand prize.
Paul McNabb, the eventual winner of the $1 million prize, sat at a table behind the Hofferberts. They watched McNabb faint and crumple to the floor when he heard his name announced. A few minutes later, he recovered and sprang to his feet to claim his check, shake Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel’s hand and become Maryland’s newest millionaire.
While touring the Lottery exhibit, Buck spotted one of the museum’s nearby exhibits featuring General Motors’ vehicles produced on the assembly lines he worked for 37 years. Thinking of his co-workers sparked another memory in the retiree. When Buck and Pat appeared on the televised Millionaire Party, several of his co-workers had gathered to watch. “But they never saw me because, when I picked up my check, the local station went to commercial,” Buck said.
Although their $500 win was a small sum in comparison to $1 million, their winnings became the talk of the neighborhood. Everyone wanted to hear about the Lottery experience. Community is important to the Baltimore natives, who grew up in Highlandtown and Dundalk. They married in 1967 and settled in the same Rosedale home they still live in today.
The $500 prize, which financed the purchase of a small outboard motor for a rowboat, remains their largest Lottery win. Their Lottery luck never ran dry, however. Pat still wins playing scratch-off tickets now and then.
Visit the Maryland Lottery exhibit now through September and follow its 40 years of fun and games. Trace its historical highlights, from the first Lottery drawing in Hopkins Plaza to the press conference announcing the world-record Mega Millions ticket sold in Maryland.The Lottery encourages players to tweet their favorite Lottery memories using the hashtag #mdlottery40. For more information about the exhibit, visit the Baltimore Museum of Industry website at thebmi.org.