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Lottery players buy tickets for Mega Millions, Powerball

August 24, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

"Mega Millions" were the words on nearly everyone's lips Friday afternoon as they approached the cashier at Central City Liquors on Dual Highway, and with jackpots in two multistate lotteries approaching record levels, that's exactly what they were hoping to receive.

Friday night's jackpot for Mega Millions, a lottery that spans 12 states including Maryland and Virginia, was estimated at $206 million. Meanwhile Powerball, a similar game played in 29 states including Pennsylvania and West Virginia, plus Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands, was estimating tonight's jackpot at $300 million.

Butch Moore is playing them both.

The 53-year-old Hagerstown man said he drove Thursday to Pennsylvania to buy $85 worth of Powerball tickets from the Molly Pitcher Mini Mart near Greencastle, Pa., on behalf of a group of about 15 of his co-workers at the West Marine boating supply store.

The group buys tickets whenever a jackpot reaches more than $100 million, which happens 10 or 15 times a year, Moore said.

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And they're not the only ones to take notice. Though the odds of winning either jackpot are less than one in 100 million, sky-high jackpots never fail to fuel ticket sales.

By Friday at 1 p.m., Mega Millions tickets were selling at a rate of about 45 per second, Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said. She said that number would rise dramatically as the day went on.

"Even people who don't normally play start thinking about how they could spend it," Everett said. "It starts to fuel itself. Everybody's talking about it, and it becomes sort of a fun fantasy."

Central City had sold almost $200 in Mega Millions tickets by lunchtime, with occasional lotto players and residents of Pennsylvania and West Virginia mixed in with the regular buyers, store assistant Michelle Roth said.

The highest Mega Millions jackpot ever awarded was the $390 million divided between two winners in March, but the highest total paid out in Maryland was $183 million in June 2003, Everett said.

The record Powerball jackpot was $365 million claimed in 2006 by a couple from Nebraska.

Today's winning Powerball numbers will be drawn at 10:59 p.m.

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