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Jackpot nears $138 million

July 12, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Ernest Hospedale Jr. said he knows why he was one of the few people buying Mega Millions tickets Thursday afternoon.

"They all know I'm going to win," the 40-year-old Army career counselor from Philadelphia said about the estimated $138 million jackpot.

Hospedale was at the Liquor Locker on Dual Highway in Hagerstown buying 10 $1 tickets for the Friday night lottery drawing. He chose the numbers on five of the tickets and let the lottery computer select the numbers for the other five.

"But it's the timing that's everything, and today I believe I have good timing," Hospedale said.

Sharon Wyne, owner of the 7-Eleven on Dual Highway, said she's seen ticket sales increase slightly with the higher-than-usual jackpot.

"Once it gets up in the $80s (millions), people get excited," Wyne said.

But Greg Nuse, a manager at Central City Liquors at the corner of West Washington Street and Burhans Boulevard, said the jackpot isn't quite high enough to start a rush on lottery tickets.

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"It's pretty normal now. Maybe if it goes above $250 (million) to $300 million, people will spend a little extra," Nuse said.

Nuse said people "are so used to it with all the high jackpots you hear about. You start talking $300 million and people get excited."

Maryland State Lottery official Richard Berkow said the jackpot for Friday night's Mega Millions drawing is expected to be about $138 million, which would be paid in annual installments over 26 years. Instead of the annual payments, a winner could chose to receive an estimated $75.7 million one-time payout, he said.

Mega Millions, which was called The Big Game until mid-May, is a nine-state lottery in which winners must match numbers on their tickets to the numbers on the lottery balls selected.

In April, The Big Game jackpot reached $325 million.

A winning Mega Millions jackpot ticket would match all six numbers, five on white balls and one on a gold-colored ball. Lesser prizes, ranging from $2 to $175,000, are given for matching the gold ball only to matching the numbers on the five white balls drawn.

The states in which Mega Millions tickets are sold are Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Michigan and Massachusetts.

Bob Montgomery, a maintenance worker at the Hagerstown Police Department, said he and 16 co-workers have been buying 17 Big Game/Mega Millions tickets for every drawing for about a year.

"The first time it was a big jackpot and we just never stopped," said Montgomery, 61, of Hagerstown, after buying his tickets at Central City Liquors.

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