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$640 million Mega Millions jackpot draws lines of people to buy tickets

March 30, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • With the Mega Millions lottery jackpot at $640 million and climbing, the opportunity for a monster payout drew lines of people to local ticket outlets.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

With the Mega Millions lottery jackpot at $640 million, the opportunity for a monster payout drew lines of people Thursday to local ticket outlets.

One of those hoping to get lucky when the numbers are drawn tonight was Paul Pague of Hagerstown, who had a plan if he wins the jackpot.

“I’d buy City Park and turn it into an amusement park,” said Pague, 66. “I’d also give $1  million to each of my kids, buy a home, give money to people down in the holes and put the rest in the bank.”
It was the record-breaking amount of the jackpot that had him taking a chance on Mega Millions.

“I always buy lottery tickets, but I rarely play Mega Millions,” Pague said. “But I’m playing today because that number is real, real high.”

Lottery officials said the Mega Millions jackpot set a world record Thursday by reaching $500 million, then broke its own record when that figure climbed to $540 million by afternoon, according to the Mega Millions website, www.megamillions.com.

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On Friday, another $100 million was added to the jackpot.

The jackpot winner would have the choice of receiving the full jackpot in 26 annual payments of about $24.6 million, or a cash option of approximately $462 million, according to the website.

Hagerstown resident Mohamed Dumbuya, 70, said he might go crazy if he won the jackpot.

“I’d go to the police and tell (them) to keep me away for the day so I could figure out what to do,” he said, jokingly. “I would give the money to charity, my church, and my family.”

Tickets to play Mega Millions are $1 each, and many people were buying multiple tickets.

Richard O’Brien of Glen Burnie, Md., said he was one of 10 people at his workplace who pitched in enough money to buy 100 tickets. He said they would share the winnings if their numbers hit.

“I’ll split it with 20 or 30 people,” said O’Brien, 47.  “As long I get a piece of the pie, I’m happy. I’ll take it any way I can get it.”

The Mega Millions jackpot has been increasing all week, according to its website. On Tuesday, the number was between $356 and $363 million. The last Mega Millions winner was on Jan. 24, and the number has been growing ever since.

Shad Hamilton, manager at Central City Liquors on West Washington Street, said that since Tuesday the number of people buying tickets has been steadily increasing.

“It’s been pretty nuts,” he said. “People have been coming in asking about Mega Millions, how much a ticket costs, and what the number is up to. There’s been a lot more traffic than we’re used to seeing.”

The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately one in 176 million, and the odds of winning any prizes are 1 in 40.

Mega Millions sales in the state of Maryland generated $1.76 million, up from $320,000 the previous week, according to a published report Wednesday.

The Powerball estimated jackpot Thursday was $60 million, and the Multi-Match estimated jackpot was $1.9 million, according to the Maryland Lottery website, www.mdlottery.com.

Hagerstown resident Fabian Viera, 42, said he would be happy winning any of the jackpots.

“You really don’t need that much money,” he said. “If I had just $100 million, my grandkids would be set.”

A Maryland resident who won the jackpot would be taxed at 7.75 percent on the state and local level, and 25 percent at the federal level, according to the Mega Millions website.

A Maryland resident who wins the Mega Millions jackpot must claim the winnings at the Maryland Lottery’s headquarters in Baltimore.

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