Clinton resident Gregory Sally enjoys playing Maryland Lottery crossword-style scratch-off tickets. In fact, he said that he’ll always pick a crossword game if he sees one on display at his favorite retailers.

Gregory explained that he’s drawn to the crossword tickets because of the extra time it takes to play them. The diversion provided by those extra few minutes as he played a Deluxe Crossword game last week was especially welcome as one of the hardest days of his life came to a close. And the $50,000 top prize that he won produced a moment of happiness when it was sorely needed.

“We buried my mother that morning, that same day,” said Gregory, 56.  “It was just a terribly sad day, and when everything was done I got a few scratch tickets as we headed back to the house.”

Gregory, who plays Lottery games three or four times a week, scratched his Deluxe Crossword game at home with his girlfriend.

“I know the game well, so when I saw four words in the first puzzle I knew I had a winner,” he said. “It was the four words in the second puzzle that got my heart pumping.”

Forming four words in each of those two puzzles delivered the game’s $50,000 top prize.

“I looked at it again and again, and then had my girlfriend look,” Gregory recalled. “It added up to $50,000 every time.”

After the shock of the win wore off, Gregory’s thoughts turned to his mom.

“I’m not particularly superstitious, but it really felt like she had helped this along somehow, that she was looking out for me and her other children,” he said.

Gregory plans to use his Deluxe Crossword winnings to cover a larger portion of the funeral expenses than he originally planned, thereby helping his siblings, who are also contributing. Some of the prize will also find its way to Gregory’s daughter in college and may be used to pay for an upcoming vacation.

Angelos Liquors at 187 St. Patrick’s Drive in Waldorf sold the winning ticket, and the retailer will receive a $500 bonus from the Lottery.  The $5 Deluxe Crossword game launched in December, and there are still seven more $50,000 top prizes remaining, along with 18 $10,000 prizes and thousands of additional prizes ranging from $5 to $1,000.