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Holiday prevents lotto winners from claiming $27M prize

| Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

Darn that Uncle Sam.

It's mostly his fault that Greig Sillaman was unable to claim his share of $27 million Monday.

'We're so unlucky that this is a holiday,' said Sillaman, 55, of Liberty Borough, who discovered over the weekend that he and five co-workers hit the jackpot of the Super 6 lotto.

Or so they think. Because of yesterday's Presidents Day holiday, the group - all employees of the U.S. Steel Irvin Works in West Mifflin - wasn't able to travel to Harrisburg to get the ticket verified because the lottery headquarters was closed.

Darn that Presidents' Day.

In 1968, the U.S. Congress moved the yearly observance from Feb. 22 - George Washington's birthdate - to the third Monday of the month to create a three-day weekend.

'It makes me very anxious,' said Sillaman, a laid-off electrician at the works. He declined to identify his co-workers - another electrician, three air-conditioning mechanics and one systems technician - who he said wanted to keep a low profile.

Since 1986, the co-workers have been pooling $5 apiece whenever the Super 6 nears $10 million.

'The first year we hit for $1,200 and some, and we got $200 each,' Sillaman said.

Paltry compared to the estimated $4.5 million, before taxes, each expects to pocket from the Super 6.

The Pennsylvania State Lottery's Web site verified that there was one winning ticket in Saturday's drawing that matched all six numbers.

Sally Danyluk, a lottery spokeswoman, said they cannot acknowledge any lottery winners until the ticket's authenticity has been verified - a two-week process.

Sillaman hasn't worked since October because of a slowdown. And, after 36 years, he had been considering retirement.

A phone call Saturday made the decision for him.

'One guy said 'Greig, we hit the big one and we don't gotta go back now,' Sillaman said. 'We all got together Saturday night, shook each other's hands and hugged each other.'

Once it's official, Sillaman plans a quiet retirement.

'I guess we'll probably move into a nicer house, just me and my wife,' he said. 'We'll just retire ... we have to let the dust settle.'

Erik Siemers can be reached at esiemers@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7997.

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