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California goes Mega with new lottery game

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Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 10:00 pm

It's "Mega Big", worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars and the first drawing of California's new multi-state lottery game, Mega Millions, will be on Friday.

Ticket sales began Wednesday, for a starting jackpot of $12 million.

The state joined 11 other states in the Mega Millions lottery game, giving ticket buyers a one in 176 million chance of winning the jackpot and a 1 in 40 chance of winning some type of prize. Jackpots are expected to reach in the range of $300 million to $500 million.

Chon Gutierrez, acting director of California State Lottery said about 37 percent of the revenue from in-state ticket sales will go to support the state's school system.

California ticket buyers will be competing with other lottery players in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Before California entered the game, Mega Millions' biggest jackpot was five years ago at $363 million.

SuperLotto Plus was the largest lottery game California residents could play before the state entered into Mega Millions. That game's largest jackpot was $193 million.


Mohammad Usman

Mohammad Usman, a Lodi resident for 11 years said that the name, Mega Millions, is fitting for the new game.

"I'm going to buy this one more," he said after buying one Mega Millions ticket for $1 rather than the SuperLotto. "This one is so much more money."

Tom Graves, owner of Plaza Liquors Turner Road said he thinks Mega Millions will be selling a lot more tickets than SuperLotto in the next few days. By 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the store had sold 154 Mega Million tickets and 126 SuperLotto Plus tickets.

"Since (SuperLotto Plus) is so low today, there's not a competition," Graves said.

Not all Lodians are forgetting about SuperLotto Plus tickets.


Michelle Montana sells a lotto ticket to a customer as she offers him a Mega Millions ticket at the Valero gas station near Turner and Rutledge roads in Lodi on Wednesday. (Angelina Gervasi/News-Sentinel)

Some Lodi convenience store managers and owners said sales for Mega Millions and SuperLotto Plus have been about the same. However, they expect sales for Mega Millions to go up later on in the game.

"They'll be coming in later, closer to the draw time," Manjit Singh, a clerk at Star Market Liquor on Cherokee Lane said.

He said not everybody knows about California being a new member to the multi-state game.

Other stores had customers buying lotto tickets soon after they read the news in the newspaper, said Barbara Ahame, owner of Shortstop mart and gas station on Cherokee Lane.

"Customers coming in know about it," she said. "I have no problem selling it. (Mega Millions) sold itself."

Michael Bender, a warehouse technician from Lodi said that he wasn't aware of the new lotto until a convenience store owner told him about it. He bought a ticket when he found out about the news.

Silverio Hernandez, owner of Sal's Lawn Repair in Lodi, said he spends about $50 a week on lottery tickets, including Scratchers and SuperLotto Plus. He said he's adding Mega Millions to his weekly lottery budget.

"I'm a good supporter of the lottery," he said. "I'll be getting these everyday."

Mega Millions players pick five numbers from one to 56 as well as a Meganumber, which is a number between one and 46. Players win the jackpot if they match all five numbers and the Meganumber.

Drawings are held every week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Scripps McClatchy News Service contributed to this report.

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