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Florida Lottery bucks stop here, again and again

Want to win lots of money?

Come to Hernando County.

Three local folks have won big bucks in the Florida Lottery in the last two months.

A woman won on a ticket she bought at the 7-Eleven at State Road 50 and Wiscon Road.

A man won on a ticket he bought in late January at the Publix at 14371 Spring Hill Drive.

Then, on Wednesday, the Florida Lottery announced a pair of million-dollar matches in the Megaball Mega Money drawing. One ticket was bought in Hialeah near Miami. And the other - but of course - was bought at the Publix near Seven Hills in Spring Hill.

"The county's just been really lucky," lottery spokesman Alfred Bea said Wednesday from his office in Tallahassee. "I hope it'll continue for you guys.

"A lot of people are going to start moving into your county," he joked.

The lottery, of course, is supposed to be random, and it is random - "every ticket has an equal chance," Bea was sure to point out - but three quick hits in Hernando is enough to make a person at least start to go hmmmmm.

Cheryl Bloom, 58, of Spring Hill was the first winner. She won the $1-million "Cash for the Holidays" New Year's Eve drawing.

Harry J. Fish, 74, of Spring Hill won the $900,000 Mega Money jackpot at the Publix on Spring Hill Drive. He took a one-time lump payout of more than $651,000.

The most recent winner either hasn't heard or can't find the ticket or just hasn't come forward yet. Winners sometimes take a week or two to hear the good news and put two and two together and call up the state's lottery headquarters in Tallahassee. There's a 180-day window to stake a claim to lottery loot.

By that time, of course, and at this rate, Hernando might have another couple winners.

"It's like the flipping of a coin," Bea said. "You may get a run of heads."

But the news did get him thinking.

"I hope you're ready for the population increase," he joked. "Y'all got room for me there?"

A spokeswoman for Publix said Wednesday from the grocery chain's main office in Lakeland that the company doesn't comment on its lottery winners. No fun.

An assistant manager at the Seven Hills store, meanwhile, sounded a little left out when she said over the phone that none of this luck had come her way.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

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