Lotto combine trying to buy every number

February 21, 1992|By Newport News Daily Press

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Virginia lottery officials will find out tomorrow if any winning tickets to the state's $27 million record Lotto were purchased by a group that tried to buy up all 7.1 million possible number combinations.

The chairman of a supermarket chain revealed yesterday that a mystery player began thinking of gambling huge sums of money in the Virginia Lotto for six months.

The man, who identified himself as a businessman in the habit of investing in large lotteries around the country, first approached the Farm Fresh grocery chain of Norfolk six months ago and asked if the company would be willing to sell him large volumes of lottery chances should the jackpot get really big.

The man didn't call back until early last week, when the Virginia Lotto was approaching $15 million.

The grocery chain agreed to sell the man the tickets only if it could work out an arrangement that wouldn't disrupt ticket sales to other customers.

As part of that agreement, Farm Fresh requested that the man, whom Farm Fresh chairman Michael Julian has refused to identify, buy the tickets in $10,000 increments paid in cashier's checks.

At the same time, somebody was buying huge blocks of tickets at several other vendors, including Miller Mart and Tinee Giant stores.

State Police and the Secret Service are investigating the ticket-buying scheme to make sure it's legal.

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