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Jackpot nears $280 million

July 01, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown lottery retailers said Wednesday that Friday's record-setting Mega Millions jackpot, expected to reach $280 million, is a big reason why their stores have been busy all week.

The largest jackpot since the game changed from The Big Game in May 2002 has been growing as the jackpot went unclaimed. Tuesday's drawing was the 15th consecutive drawing without a jackpot winner.

Workers at Byers Stop-N-Go on North Burhans Boulevard put up a sign to remind patrons of Friday's jackpot. "Mega Millions is up too ... $280 million. Get one while u can," it read.

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"Over the past week, we've had a big increase in sales," said Byers worker Dan Harris, 20, of Hagerstown.

Harris said the average customer has bought around $30 in tickets but said he has resisted the temptation.

"It entices me but I'm not a gambler," he said.

At C&R Liquors off Dual Highway, Steve Harris, 49, of Hagerstown, said he normally doesn't play but decided to buy a ticket for Friday's drawing.

"It's that big money," he said. "You never know."

Bill Cody, an employee at C&R, said ticket sales have increased noticeably. He said he sold $75 in tickets to one customer.

Carlos Morales, 47, of Hagerstown, an employee of Nadia Convenience Store on West Franklin Street, said people are excited. "It sure has taken people's attention away from Keno," he said.

Morales said there may be people buying tickets who are not regular Mega Millions players.

"Especially with Mega Millions, people will see the jackpot and decide to play," said Maryland Lottery communications officer Gail Pelovitz. Tickets cost $1 each.

Kotton Powell, 27, of Hagerstown, said he is not a regular Mega Millions player but "that jackpot got me in," prompting him to buy two tickets for Friday's drawing.

Friday's drawing will be held at 11 p.m.

Players may pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers: five different numbers from 1 to 52, and one number from 1 to 52 or select Easy Pick. To win, a player must match all six numbers drawn.

Mega Millions is a multi-state, mega-jackpot lottery game with tickets sold in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington State.

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