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Lotto Fever Worsens as Jackpot Hit $55 Million

September 14, 1989

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ People with dreams of wealth and wealthy people with hopes for more lined up and bought Lotto tickets by the millions as the jackpot for Wednesday night’s drawing reached $55 million.

″Everybody wants a winning number. And everybody thinks they have it when they leave the store,″ said Miles Turnquist, the owner of a 7-Eleven in Truckee near the north shore of Lake Tahoe about 30 miles west of Reno, Nev.

Sales for the 7:58 p.m. televised drawing averaged $1.73 million an hour Wednesday, totaling $12.1 million between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. as Californians and a fair number of Nevadans bought chances on the rollover jackpot that hasn’t been won since Aug. 26, Lottery officials said.

Sales Tuesday in the Lotto 6-46 game topped $17 million and $9.9 million worth of $1 tickets were purchased Sunday and Monday.

Players pick six numbers from 1 to 49 in the twice-a-week game. The winning numbers picked in Wednesday’s drawing were 02, 32, 21, 11, 28, 19 and the bonus number, to determine a larger jackpot for five-of-six winners, was 27. The winner, if any, was to be announced Thursday.

The chance of winning: 1 in 14 million. Big winners get their prizes in 20 annual installments.

The all-time California jackpot record was $61.98 million on Oct. 29, 1988, with sales that day of $39.8 million, Lottery spokesman John Schaade said. Holders of three winning tickets split the take.

The largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever was given away in the Pennsylvania lottery on April 26, 1989, when $115 million was split by 14 winning tickets.

On Wednesday, a ″Lotto Fever Management Team″ tried to make sure there would be no glitches at the 7,900 retailers around the state where tickets are sold.

″All systems are go so far,″ said Lottery spokeswoman Caroline Walker, who added, ″Better knock on wood.″

Many did around the state, from traditional high-volume seller Wills Fargo Country Store in Baker to specialty shops in affluent Beverly Hills.

″We’re midway between Las Vegas and Barstow,″ Steve Zwerner, general manager of the country store in the Southern California desert near the Nevada line, said Tuesday. ″You have to go right through us to get to Vegas. Many of them just came, bought their tickets and got back to Vegas.″

Even the rich get Lotto fever, said Beverly Hills tobacconist Charlie Kornguth.

Kornguth said he sells $4,000 and $5,000 worth of Lotto tickets with random, computer-selected numbers to many well-heeled customers. He said he once issued $11,000 in tickets to ″a man who won zero, zilch, nothing.″

John Kaiser, managing partner of the Satellite Mrket in Orange, said many of his customers eschewed random picks for birthdays, anniversaries and Los Angeles Dodgers’ numbers.

″I know one guy who uses the date he got divorced,″ Kaiser said.

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