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Big Game fever rises

May 08, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Suzi Stricker hopes a family legacy of good luck will boost her chances of winning the biggest jackpot in the history of any lottery game played in Maryland.

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The jackpot for the state's Big Game lottery on Monday was at $325 million.

Stricker once won $22,000 on a scratch-off ticket, and her mother cashed in a $238,000 winning game ticket from the Maryland Lottery, she said.

"I thought that luck might rub off on me," Stricker, of Hagerstown, said. "I just want $1 million. I'm not greedy."

The winning Big Game numbers to be drawn just after 11 p.m. tonight is worth $325 million before taxes. If taken in annual installments, that would amount to $13 million a year for 26 years. A lone winner choosing the cash option would get about $161.4 million, said Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Gail Pelovitz.

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The Internal Revenue Service will take about one-third of the payout in taxes. After taxes, a lone jackpot winner would get either $8.5 million a year for 26 years or a one-time payment of $110 million.

The odds of matching all five numbers and the Big Money Ball are one in 76,275,360,Pelovitz said.

Despite the odds, people flocked to area stores Monday to shell out $1 per ticket for a chance at the big money. Long lines begin to form any time the jackpot gets over $100 million, area lottery agents said.

"Sales have been incredible," said ticket agent Ed Hood II of Market Lot Liquors in Hagerstown. The Big Game has "outsold everything else in the store today by three times."

Stricker joined a growing line of other potential jackpot winners who were buying tickets at Central City Liquors on Burhans Boulevard.

"My story is that I want to win," said Virginia Ballard, of Hagerstown, as she bought two tickets.

Last April's $197 million Big Game jackpot, which was won by a ticket holder from Massachusetts, held the previous record for the biggest jackpot in the history of any Maryland Lottery game, Pelovitz said.

Powerball, for which tickets are sold in 20 states and Washington, D.C., held the world record for lottery jackpots with a $297.4 million payout in 1998, Pelovitz said. That prize was shared by 13 machinists from Westerville, Ohio.

The largest Big Game jackpot ever won by a Maryland resident was $60 million last May, she said.

Big Game tickets are sold in seven states, including Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey.

Keno was the highest selling state lottery game in 1999, followed by Pick Three, Pelovitz said.

Maryland Lottery gross revenue in fiscal 1999 tallied more than $1 billion, and about 50 percent of that revenue was returned to lottery players in the form of prizes, according to the Maryland State Lottery.

Operational expenses and earnings paid to licensed ticket agents totaled about 10 percent of the gross revenue, and state profits equaled about 36 percent.

The state's net profit in fiscal 1999 was about $393 million, most of which was funneled into the Maryland General Fund, according to the Maryland State Lottery.

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