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Big Game jackpot hits $115 million

April 05, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

Retirees Beatrice and Alan Sapperstein are chasing a dream.

The Reisterstown, Md., couple travels all over Western Maryland buying Big Game lottery tickets in the hope of hitting the jackpot that, as of Thursday, was $115 million.

On Thursday the Sappersteins were at the Liquor Locker in Hagerstown buying Big Game tickets. Each of them uses random numbers and buys separate tickets, Beatrice Sapperstein said.

If they win, they'll take the cash option of $58 million.

"We're a little old for the annuity," Alan Sapperstein said.

The Sappersteins have been playing the Big Game since its inception in September 1996.

If they win, the first thing they plan to do is change their address.

"We're frustrated apartment dwellers, so we'd buy a house or a condo," Beatrice Sapperstein said.

"And give some to the kids," Alan Sapperstein said.

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The Big Game is a multi-state lottery game with tickets sold in Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois and Georgia, according to a lottery press release.

To win the jackpot, players must correctly match five numbered balls between 1 and 50 and one Big Money Ball number between 1 and 36.

The drawing will be held at 11:07 tonight.

Sales on Thursday were slow but two lottery outlets said that will change today as the time for the drawing approaches.

"We get lots of people who buy tickets all the time," said Dawn Ralls, a cashier at Byers Stop-N-Go on Burhans Boulevard. "But when it gets high, we get some who only play when it's high."

Ralls said she has noticed that women tend to buy more tickets when the jackpot is high. "Women will buy 100 tickets and men will get two ... I don't know what that says unless it's that men are cheap."

John Zombro, owner of Central City Liquors, said there usually aren't lines in his store on Washington Avenue at Burhans Boulevard for lottery tickets until the jackpot tops $200 million.

"When it gets like this, the difference is that people will buy $50 worth instead of a few," Zombro said.

The largest amount won on a ticket purchased in Maryland was $60 million by George Poteet and his wife of Millersville, Md.

Gary Nelson of Hagerstown buys lottery tickets daily, using birthdays and other personal events as his lucky numbers.

"I have about four or five special numbers that I use in different combinations. After I usually give up on them, three or four days later they hit," he joked.

On Thursday, Nelson stopped at the Liquor Locker to pick up a Big Game ticket.

Nelson said if he wins he'll pay off some bills and take an early retirement from his construction job.

One customer Thursday bought 40 tickets, Liquor Locker clerk Debbie Combs said.

Combs said she was expecting ticket sales to increase today.

"It gets crazy whenever it gets high," she said.

Combs said she may try her hand at winning using random numbers.

"If I win, maybe I'll buy the place," she said.

Staff Writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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