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$170M Mega Millions jackpot has Calif. Lottery officials scrambling

Mega MillionsMega Millions: $170M Mega Millions jackpot has Calif. Lottery officials scrambling

Chon Gutierrez, acting director of the California State Lottery, boldly predicted there would be days like this. But he had no idea that day would come this soon.

Today, California's participation in the new Mega Millions multistate lottery game is expected to produce a $170 million jackpot, the second-largest lottery jackpot in state history. If no one wins in the 12-state drawing tonight, Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot likely will top $200 million - exceeding the California record of $193 million from the SuperLotto game in February 2002.

"This (Mega Millions) game is not a month old. We figured we still would be educating people about the game," Gutierrez said Thursday. "Instead, we find ourselves with this life-altering jackpot. We didn't think we would see a jackpot this big this quickly."

State lottery officials began selling tickets for Mega Millions on June 22, hyping the Tuesday and Friday drawings for ushering in a new era of bigger and bigger payouts. The largest prize in Mega Millions history was $363 million five years ago.

In their first eight Mega Millions drawings, Californians bought $37 million in tickets. During the same period, $97 million was spent on drawings for California's Wednesday and Saturday SuperLotto Plus.

The big Mega Millions jackpot comes as lottery officials announced Thursday record sales of more than $3.3 billion in tickets for lottery games for the fiscal year ending June 30. The sales total was $425 million over the previous year.

Gutierrez credited the increase to a surge in sales for the lottery's more than 60 Scratchers games after a decision by the Lottery Commission to fatten the prize pool for the games.

Lottery fever - and a vast array of games - lured David Bolt, 63, an Army veteran and retired postal worker, to the 7-Eleven store on Sacramento's Arden Way on Thursday. Bolt bought five Mega Millions tickets and then pointed to a glass case full of Scratchers tickets like a kid selecting treats at a candy store.

"I'll take two of these, four of these, two of these, two of these and three of these," he said to the store clerk, buying Big Spin tickets and Scratcher games, including $19 Million Spectacular, Diamond Jubilee, California Cash and 30 Grand.

Mega Millions is the newest feature in his lottery portfolio.

"I think it's a good idea. Why not play it every time?" Bolt said. "I might as well have the chance to win."

At Lichine's Liquor and Deli in Sacramento's South Land Park, one of the leading lottery sales outlets in California, every customer sitting at the deli tables Thursday afternoon was filling out a Mega Millions form or had just bought tickets for the game.

"I think playing the Lotto was a long shot, but this one (Mega Millions) is astronomical," said Rosa Shumacher, a retired administrative assistant from Elk Grove who buys a handful of $1 lottery tickets a week. "But I'll play it. Four dollars a week is not too much to pay for an extraordinary long shot."

The reality is that the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are about one in 176 million. SuperLotto is a safer bet - with one winner for every 41.4 million tickets sold.

Still, that didn't discourage Edward Lockhart, 69, a retired photographer, from buying five Mega Million quick picks and musing: "If I hit it, I'll buy about 320 new digital cameras.

"Then, I'll go on a photo safari in Africa," he said. "And then Brazil. I love Brazil. I guess I'll just love life until I kick the bucket."

Such daydreaming continues to worry anti-gambling activists who are suing to stop the Mega Millions game in California.

"The bigger the jackpot, the lesser your odds. It's the equivalent of being struck by lightning six times," said Fred Jones, an attorney for the Coalition Against Gambling Expansion. "A lot of people lining up for tickets are the people who can least afford to lose."

The Sacramento-based organization sued the California Lottery Commission and acting director Gutierrez on July 6, charging that the lottery illegally entered the multistate game without legislative approval.

The Mega Millions game is made up of lottery players in California, New York, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington.

Over the course of a year, the Mega Millions game is expected to produce 18 jackpots bigger than $100 million and four exceeding $200 million, Gutierrez said.

Since California joined Mega Millions, nine Californians have won or shared prizes ranging from $211,307 to $407,668 for selecting five of five numbers - but not the extra Mega Number to trigger the jackpot.

Thirty-four percent of lottery revenues goes to public education. The 2004-05 ticket sales will produce $1.16 billion for elementary, junior high and high schools, community colleges, the California State University and University of California systems and other educational programs. The largest share - estimated at $793 million - will go to K-12 schools, accounting for 1.4 percent of the budget.

"The lottery is not a solution to education funding," said California schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell, "but every nickel and dime helps."

Sacramento Bee

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10 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by LOTTOMIKE.
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Avatar
Greenwich, CT
United States
Member #4793
May 24, 2004
1822 Posts
Offline
Posted: July 22, 2005, 11:22 am - IP Logged

"In their first eight Mega Millions drawings, Californians bought $37 million in tickets. During the same period, $97 million was spent on drawings for California's Wednesday and Saturday SuperLotto Plus."

These two sentences say it all.  Californians have not yet caught MM fever.  Once the jackpot cycles around again, the general public gets used to the game, and system players get up and running, everyone's going to be California dreaming.  Watch out!  The big jackpot rollovers are yet to come.

    Avatar

    United States
    Member #972
    December 30, 2002
    465 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: July 22, 2005, 11:56 am - IP Logged

    >"The bigger the jackpot, the lesser your odds. It's the equivalent of being struck by lightning six times," said Fred Jones, an attorney for the Coalition Against Gambling Expansion.

    I can see being against the lottery, but it helps to use arguments that make sense. "The bigger the jackpot, the lesser your odds"?

      megamillionaire's avatar - Sphere animated_small_ neg2.gif
      Queens, NY
      United States
      Member #245
      April 15, 2002
      451 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: July 22, 2005, 1:22 pm - IP Logged

      If the anti-gambling folks ever win I'll go back to the illegal numbers. The payoffs are better and you can play for as little as a penny. Don't think they're going to win though. The Whiskey Rebellion would look like a picnic compared to the Lottery Rebellion. Mad

      Megamillionaire

      Time is a wonderful teacher, but it kills all its students.

      A man must consider what a rich realm he leaves when he becomes a conformist.

        Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
        Atlantic Mine, Michigan
        United States
        Member #416
        June 23, 2002
        1614 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: July 22, 2005, 1:26 pm - IP Logged

        "In their first eight Mega Millions drawings, Californians bought $37 million in tickets. During the same period, $97 million was spent on drawings for California's Wednesday and Saturday SuperLotto Plus."

        I just realized this but both Mega Millions and SuperLotto Plus are exactly the same game.  SuperLotto plus just has better odds.  They have the same setup and structure and everything.  The only way I would play Mega Millions in California is when the jackpot is as high as it is.  Now I can see why they are buying so many more SuperLotto Plus tickets then Mega Millions tickets even though they are buying quite a few (Less than New York though that has about half the amount of people)

        Brad


          United States
          Member #16612
          June 2, 2005
          3493 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: July 22, 2005, 1:34 pm - IP Logged

          I agree with Bradly_60 on this one. My dad usually tells me to buy him just $1 to have a chance to win a jackpot for CA SLP and/or MM. I know that CA SLP has better odds with the same setup and structure. Besides, it only takes $1 to win the extra Mega Ball Number and all 5 numbers to win the extreme jackpot. MM has astronomical odds, but only $1 can possibly win the big jackpot.

            Avatar
            Greenwich, CT
            United States
            Member #4793
            May 24, 2004
            1822 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: July 22, 2005, 2:02 pm - IP Logged

            No, no, the average lottery player isn't a fanatic like us!  You walk into the gas station...you see that CA SL+ is $30 million and MM is $100 million...which one would you buy?  The $100 million.  People just need to get used to the new game...don't worry, they'll shift from CA SL+ to MM in time.

              Avatar
              Portland
              United States
              Member #7262
              September 27, 2004
              111 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: July 22, 2005, 2:33 pm - IP Logged

              Hello :

              I am now living in MM state and bought three dollars for the $170 M prize. Eehehe, the drawing time is about to come but I am not confident at all!Dead!!  but I think winning lottery is always fatal: if you were the winner, even the odd is 1 to 1 billion you will win ; if you were not, you will lose the game with the odd of 1 to 2.

              I have learn about a couple who each won the lotto at the same day, and the odd of both cases is 1 to ...at least 24 billion.

              I know some of you are in mixing feeling: hoping, hopeless and exciting , so I would like to share it!!

              So,  don't worry about the population of  CA, NY, TX, or whatever! Cheers up !!!


                United States
                Member #379
                June 5, 2002
                11296 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: July 22, 2005, 4:00 pm - IP Logged

                SLP has a 50% payback. NY Lotto is only 38%-40%. It will take longer for MM sales to exceed SLP in California, than it did for MM to get more play than NY Lotto.

                  dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

                  United States
                  Member #2338
                  September 17, 2003
                  2063 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: July 23, 2005, 12:05 am - IP Logged

                  If they are going to win an injuction, perfect timing would be in one week. Assuming now one wins in the next three drawings. If that would tick off California voters than I don't know what would.

                    LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                    Tennessee
                    United States
                    Member #7853
                    October 15, 2004
                    11338 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: July 28, 2005, 4:24 am - IP Logged

                    If the anti-gambling folks ever win I'll go back to the illegal numbers. The payoffs are better and you can play for as little as a penny. Don't think they're going to win though. The Whiskey Rebellion would look like a picnic compared to the Lottery Rebellion. Mad

                    I Agree!