Tonight's Mega Millions drawing a way to dream big

April 18, 2006|By NICOLE FULLER | NICOLE FULLER,SUN REPORTER

If tonight's $265 million Mega Millions jackpot rewards all players with something, it's the opportunity to dream big.

Take Bill Guziewicz, a furniture mover and avid lottery player from Greenbelt, struggling to make ends meet.

Work is slow, so yesterday he was trying to figure out how he would scrape up the cash to buy a few tickets. With a fresh pack of generic cigarettes in his hand and a newspaper under his arm, he stood outside the Old Greenbelt Citgo in Prince George's County, smiling at the thought of all that money.

No more work as a furniture mover, he said. His new home: a boat. His new occupation: scuba diver.

"I'd be another Jimmy Buffett - get a boat and live on the water," said Guziewicz, 41.

This jackpot is not quite a Mega Millions record-breaker. That was back in 2000 when Larry Ross, a Michigan swimming pool installer, won $363 million.

Tonight's $265 million prize will likely have Marylanders standing in long lines for a chance at the jackpot, said Buddy W. Roogow, director of the Maryland State Lottery.

Good news for him, he said, adding that close to $3 million in tickets will be sold in the state, with much of the revenue from lottery outlets near the state's border with its neighbors. Traditionally, players from Washington, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia flood stores in Maryland anytime the jackpot rises over $200 million.

It's likely, Roogow said, that extra lottery machines will be dispatched to some stores to pick up the slack.

"Mega Millions is still only 7 percent of our sales," Roogow said, adding that games like Pick 3, Pick 4 and Multi-Match are much more popular. "It's not the game we live or die by, but when it's this high, Mega Millions becomes king of the mountain."

Roogow can't purchase Mega Millions tickets because under lottery regulations neither he nor his family can collect any winnings. But he has his ideas about who should win.

"I would obviously love to see us get a winner from Maryland," Roogow said.

And he'd like to see Mega Millions emulate the winning formula of its arch-nemesis Powerball, which last week awarded $224.2 million to a group of 13 state workers from Missouri.

"It's too much for one person," Roogow said, referring to the Mega Millions jackpot. "I think it ought to be split."

Holding out hope

Just about everybody was hoping for a piece of the prize.

Roger Kozazenko, 55, who manned the counter of his sister's Fells Point shop, Bristol Liquors, yesterday, only hoped that the winning ticket would be purchased there.

"I'd like to see the store hit it," Kozazenko said. "You get a nice little percent."

Hard to resist

Kozazenko, who has played various lottery games, including Mega Millions, for many years, acknowledged the odds against winning, but said the lure is nearly impossible to resist.

"It's a dream where they won't have to work no more," Kozazenko said. "What way can you get $265 million with a dollar? It's worth it. You can go to bed poor, and you wake up rich."

Aaron Thompson, 41, a West Baltimore concrete cutter offered this advice to players: "You just gotta hope and pray."

Back in Greenbelt, a man filled out a Mega Millions game card with numbers from the back of Chinese cookie fortunes that he got Saturday night.

"I'm a private guy," the 47-year-old Washington resident said. He refused to give his name for publication, but said he hoped he would be the subject of future stories - as tonight's big winner.

His fortunes read: "God will give you everything that you want. Success is on the way to you."

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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