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Big Game jackpot is a record-breaker

March 30, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

The Maryland State Lottery's Big Game jackpot has climbed to $97 million, the highest lottery prize ever offered in Maryland.

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The cash option for tonight's drawing would be $51.4 million.

The pot grew from $93 million on Friday to $97 million after players failed to pick all six winning numbers.

Lottery Director Buddy Roogow said sales over the weekend "more than doubled those of the same period last week."

Big Game players must match six numbers, five selected from a field of 50 and one chosen from a field of 36.

Ticket sales for Big Game were brisk Monday at several local businesses. Customers flowed in an out of Central City Liquors buying not only Big Game but Keno and other types of tickets.

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"We're doing pretty good today," said Central City Liquors Assistant Manager Debbie Wagner.

"We had one person buy $50 worth" of tickets, said Wagner.

Clerks at the Sheetz stores on Dual Highway and at Oak Ridge Drive and South Potomac Street, reported heavy sales.

Ticket sales also were up at the Liquor Locker on Dual Highway, although not "out the door," said clerk, Paula Havey.

"A lot of people have been coming in buying $20 worth of tickets, but no one's getting crazed," she said.

She said a customer last Friday purchased $95 worth of Big Game tickets.

"I don't think I'm going to win," said one ticket buyer who did not want his name used.

He said he continues to play "just in case." He purchased four Big Game tickets.

Jennifer Sheehan, 32, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said she came to Hagerstown to visit friends and decided to buy a Big Game ticket.

"It would be so great if it were me. I have so many bills and things I could spend it on," she said.

Sheehan, who has a daughter, Tina 2, said she would buy her child clothes and toys with the money.

"I would also like a new car," she said.

Regular lottery player Alan Gladhill, of Hagerstown, said he spends about $100 a week on tickets.

He bought a Big Game ticket Monday, letting the computer pick his numbers.

If he wins, Gladhill said he will take the cash and reinvest it.

He said he loves to play but doesn't know if the odds will be in his favor.

Patrick Morton, Maryland State Lottery spokesman, said players have a 1 in 97 million chance of winning.

In the case of multiple winners, the jackpot prize is divided equally. The prize is paid in 26 equal installments or in one lump sum, based on the option selected by the player.

The Big Game jackpot starts at $5 million, said Morton.

The Big Game started in September 1996 and six states participate - Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and Georgia.

He said the game was formed in response to player requests for higher jackpots.

Big Game numbers are drawn twice a week. Tickets are $1, said Morton.

In 1988, Big Game sales were more than $36 million. Earlier this year, when the jackpot reached $60 million, lottery outlets handled 30 transactions a second, he said.

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