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Lottery jackpot hits record $115 million



Published: Tue, July 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Most players let the computer pick the numbers for them.

BY SHERRI L. SHAULIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- It takes only one to win.

Clerks at convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations and more throughout the Mahoning Valley say they are hearing that phrase a lot these days, thanks to Mega Millions lottery game.

With no winning ticket sold for the drawing Friday, tonight's jackpot stands at $115 million. It's the highest Mega Millions jackpot since its inception and the single-largest jackpot ever offered in Ohio; the previous record was set when the Super Lotto Plus jackpot reached $75 million April 23.

But the increase in winnings isn't translating into a huge increase in ticket sales, at least not yet. Most stores are seeing about a 50 percent increase in Mega Millions ticket sales and expect the lines to be long today.

"Sales aren't quite double what they have been," said Becky Wakefield, a clerk at Hubbard Gas and Mini Mart on Hubbard-Youngstown Road, Hubbard. "People are buying anywhere from $1 worth of tickets up to about $30."

Corey Bowers, a clerk at Farmer Bill's Too on state Route 45, Lisbon, said sales at her store are generally about $5.

"We've seen a few new faces in here, but mostly it's our regular customers," she said.

No long lines ... yet

Colleen Lozano, who works at the Country Fair Food Store on South Avenue Extension, Boardman, said sales have been sporadic so far, but Mega Millions is definitely a bigger seller these days than other lottery games.

"There haven't been any long lines yet," she said.

Bowers and Wakefield said the trend also shows customers letting the computer pick the numbers for them.

"I guess they think they have more of a chance that way," Bowers said.

Wakefield said not too many of her regular customers ever pick their own numbers; she added that most of the winning tickets they cash in seem to be ones where the computer picked the numbers.

Tickets for Mega Millions are sold exclusively in Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. The minimum starting jackpot for the game, which officially kicked off May 15, is $10 million.

There are nine ways to win, and overall odds, according to the Ohio Lottery Commission, are 1 in 43 of winning a cash prize. The odds of matching all five numbers plus the Gold Mega Ball are 1 in 135,145,920.

The live drawings are conducted at 11 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday.

slshaulis@vindy.com




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