Lottery fever sweeps area


Maryland lottery agents were selling plenty of tickets for tonight's Big Game drawing, and the Thursday buyers were thinking about what they would do if they won the $160 million jackpot

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Mack Trucks employee Charlie Slick, who purchased $23 worth of tickets for himself and four of his co-workers on Thursday, said he would love to win so that he could help his two children financially.

"I have everything I need," he said.

Tonight's jackpot will be the biggest ever offered in a Maryland lottery game and the biggest for the 30-month-old Big Game, a multistate lottery that conducts drawings every Tuesday and Friday. The previous Big Game record was $77 million.

The drawing will be at 11:07 p.m.

Clerks at the Liquor Locker on Hagerstown's Dual Highway had sold more than 400 tickets by Thursday afternoon.

"They've been going fast. People have been coming in buying $100 worth at a time," said employee Paula Havey.


A lottery player herself, Havey said she plans to try for the $160 million.

Should she win, "I'd take the annuity, but my husband would take the cash," she said. "I like the idea of having lots of money coming in every year."

Havey's plans for her potential winnings are to buy land and start a horse farm, where she would teach riding skills to underprivileged children.

At Cut-Rate Liquors on Dual Highway, ticket sales were brisk, and about 600 had been sold by about 4:30 p.m., according to Manager Tom Potts.

"If I won I would take the cash," said Potts. "I would buy a ticket out of here on Monday and buy a five-acre villa in Aruba."

The jackpot, which was at $102 million for Tuesday's drawing, but it grew to $160 million when no player held the winning combination of numbers.

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

Lottery Director Buddy Roogow said two second-tier winners in Tuesday's drawing were from Maryland. Each won $150,000.

Players' chances of winning the jackpot are remote, he said.

"There are nine ways to win the Big Game and we've had quite a few $150,000 winners and thousands of winners in the lower tiers," he said in a press release.

In the case of multiple jackpot winners, the prize is divided equally.

The prize is paid in 26 equal installments or in one lump sum, whichever the player prefers. The cash option for the game is $84.5 million.

Lottery officials expect to sell $30 million in tickets, including $5.2 million today, compared with a weekly average of $750,000 in sales.

The Big Game, which started in September 1996, is played in seven states: Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Georgia and New Jersey.

Numbers are drawn twice a week. Tickets are $1.

- Capital News Service contributed to this story.

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