LIMA — If you wanted in early, you had to show up early.
The Ohio Lottery’s popular game show, “Cash Explosion,” was the place to be Tuesday in Lima as lines to watch two recordings of the show began at 6 a.m. By 4:30 p.m., more than 2,000 people stretched the line down to Elizabeth Street to get into the Veterans Memorial Civic Center to view the show. A long line of people were still filing in at 6 p.m. for the first show’s 6:30 p.m. start.
“This is a great turnout,” said Barry Riley, executive producer of the show.
Riley said Lima was chosen based on many criteria. The show, which is normally taped in Columbus, schedules special dates at various sites throughout the state a few times a year. Riley said Lima was chosen in large part because of its military background because the two shows were being recorded on Veterans Day.
“First of all, they have to have facilities that have the capability to hold all of the people,” Riley said. “We had another show recorded in Lima several years ago and it was very successful. There also has to be hotel space and the ability to put up staging and lights. Lima fit all those criteria and the city has a strong lineage of military service.”
Contestants of the show began a long, grueling day in preparation for the show at about 11 a.m. The long day included various briefings, a show rehearsal and hairstyling and makeup before the show. Contestants for the show are selected by submitting scratch-off tickets online or through the mail. The contestants are randomly drawn from the submitted entries.
“It was a pretty exciting day,” said Cindy Council, a stay-at-home mother from Rutland and one of the show’s contestants. “It was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait though. But if I was at home, I would just be doing dishes or doing laundry.”
Council and several other contestants gave the show a more positive ring with their stories as they prepared for the competition. Council and her husband have three teenagers at home and have had trouble securing reliable employment. For now, they were doing whatever odd jobs they could find to bring money into the home. Her winning ticket was the only ticket she submitted, which was given to her by her husband. Her husband had received the entry from a friend.
“I don’t pray for money,” Council said. “However, I do pray for light at the end of the tunnel. That is what this is to us.”
Council said she hopes to win enough money so they can purchase a reliable vehicle to help them in finding sustainable employment. She said she also plans to donate money to their church.
“They have been a great source of strength,” Council said of her church.
Another contestant, 56-year-old Mike Erow, of Danville, is retired and spends his time refurbishing computers for his Computers for Kids charity. He has been battling cancer, which began in his spine and has spread to kidneys. His 17-year-old daughter was among those in attendance.
“I live for my daughter,” Erow said. “I would just like to use some of my winnings to help pay for her college.”
Joe Pickering, 57, of Cleveland, said he buys a ticket every morning on his way to work at Enessy’s, which manufactures battery chargers for tow motors.
“I had sent in many tickets in the mail,” he said. “This was the first one I submitted online, and I was drawn.”
Pickering said he plans to take his grandchildren to Disney World depending on how much he wins, and said he would also like to buy a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“A brand new one instead of a used one,” he said. “Without the payments.”
Marie Kilbane, public information officer for the Ohio Lottery, said there have been several great stories through the years.
“We have had winners of all types over 15 years,” Kilbane said. “We love to hear stories like this. You get an interesting mix of people from all walks of life. We want them all to have great experiences on the show.”
Kilbane said that putting money in the bank and paying bills are the two most common goals for contestants. She said many of them also say they plan to use the money to help their children through college or take small vacations.
The two recorded shows will air at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 23.