`Excitement that grows and grows ...'

Mega Millions jackpot hits $330 million

August 31, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

Certainly a nice chunk of change — Back on July 10, the Mega Millions jackpot was $12 million.

Certainly a nice chunk of change -- and as readers of the will of recently deceased billionaire real-estate magnate Leona Hemsley learned, enough to care for her pampered pooch, to which she left $12 million.

But nobody won the grand prize -- despite 15 drawings -- and today's 12-state Mega Millions jackpot has grown to $330 million, the second-largest jackpot in the game's history.

The biggest Mega Millions jackpot was a $390 million prize split in March between winners in New Jersey and Georgia.

If Maryland produces tonight's $330 million jackpot winner, the state would get 7 percent of the cash option prize of $195 million.

"There is a certain level of excitement that grows and grows with this thing," said Buddy W. Roogow, director of the state lottery. "I always tease people and say, `$12 million , $15 million, $30 million isn't enough for you?' They say, `Yeah, I wait till it gets to $100 million.'"

At two convenience stores in downtown Baltimore yesterday, there were no lines of people waiting to buy tickets. Roogow said lines are usually at stores along the state's border, where patrons from Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia enter Maryland to play.

"I'm not really what you call hooked, but I'll try my luck," said Larry Hall, 53, at Turf's, a downtown convenience store.

"Sometimes with Mega Millions big jackpots, the lines are out the door," said Alex Oh, 52, owner of Turf's.

One person who said he definitely wasn't willing to play Mega Millions was Gerard Green, 18.

The West Baltimore teen said he won a $2,000 prize from playing Pick 3 a few months back. He's now loyal to that game.

"I spent it all mostly," Green said. "I got gold fronts. I got some shoes. I got True Religion jeans. That tattoo was $50."

Gregory Banks, 54, an assistant bail bondsman from West Baltimore was anxious to play.

"I'd like to have half of it," Banks said of the $330 million prize.

Yesterday, a family from Gaithersburg claimed a $250,000 prize by matching five of six numbers in a recent Mega Millions drawing.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won in Maryland was $183 million, in June 2003 by Bernadette Gietka of Baltimore County.

Maryland's second-tier winning ticket from Tuesday night's drawing was purchased at the White Marsh BP gas station at 5250 Campbell Boulevard in Baltimore County. The winner of the $250,000 prize, won by matching five numbers, has not yet claimed the prize.

TheMega Millions game is played in 12 states, including Maryland, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, Texas and California.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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