Big Game frenzy

$160 million: Record jackpot spurs stampede to buy tickets before tonight's big drawing.

April 02, 1999

THERE'S been nothing like it in Maryland: A $160 million lottery jackpot that has people clamoring for Big Game tickets from lottery vendors. Expect long lines if you wait too late to buy your tickets before tonight's 11 p.m. drawing.

Chances are very strong that someone tonight will win this jackpot -- $6.1 million annually for 26 years, or $84.5 million in cash. Lottery officials predict that only 10 percent of the Big Game combinations will be left unplayed by drawing time. That's more incentive for people to take a chance, despite the 76 million to 1 odds.

In Maryland, sales for the drawing are expected to reach 7.5 million. Last week's Big Game sales totaled only 2.764 million. That's what a gigantic jackpot can do for lottery revenues.

This is the biggest jackpot ever in this state, far exceeding the $77 million Big Game of April 1997. Two Powerball jackpots in other states still hold the record for jackpots: $195 million and $290 million.

These are staggering numbers. No wonder the most-asked question around town yesterday was, "How would you spend all that money?"

The lure of finding gold at the end of the rainbow keeps attracting people to games of chance. Though the odds are heavily against them, hope springs eternal. This is what makes state-run lotteries so successful: Everyone thinks that someday they will hit the big jackpot.

Pub Date: 4/02/99

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