Illinois Lottery Raises Jackpot To $62 Million, A Record
CHICAGO (AP) _ Lottery officials upped the state Lotto jackpot to $62 million today - a national record - as gamblers and dreamers from as far away as Europe clamored to play.
The geographical range is ″something we’ve never seen before,″ Illinois Lottery Director Sharon Sharp said Thursday.
Travelers passing through O’Hare International Airport jammed Lotto booths, where sales for Saturday’s drawing have been just about double the average, said Bob Flynn of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, which runs the six Lotto kiosks.
″Who knows when the wheel of fortune spins or not?″ said ticket-buyer Arthur Beane, a salesman from South Carolina.
″I want to win,″ said Florida developer Jack Ross.
Ticket sales were also particularly brisk at lottery outlets near Illinois’ borders with Indiana, Wisconsin and Missouri, as residents from those states flocked to get in on the action.
″They’re ordering them by the hundreds. One runner from Indiana just bought $3,200 worth,″ sat Pat Poulos of the Deluxe Restaurant in Danville.
The Illinois jackpot had risen to $58 million by Friday morning. And shortly after noon, lottery spokeswoman Kathy Rem announced it had swollen to $62 million - topping the old record of $61.98 million set last October in California.
Three winning tickets were bought in the California lottery, and two of the three tickets had been purchased by groups of co-workers, so the winnings were actually split more than 40 ways. The largest lottery prize that went to a single ticket buyer was claimed last September, when a Florida woman won $55 million.
Ticket sales have increased the Illinois jackpot - already swollen by rollovers from three straight winless drawings - by $5 million each day since Sunday.
More than 23 million tickets had been sold by late Thursday.
Ms. Rem said officials have received inquiries about the drawing from California, Tennessee, Texas and other states.
″We’ve also gotten calls from Europe - England, the Netherlands - with people asking how they can play,″ she said.
Ticket sales have broken records every day this week. A total of 7.5 million tickets were sold Wednesday, a 20 percent increase over the previous mark for a Wednesday set in 1986, Ms. Rem said.
Each $1 ticket has two plays. In each bet, the bettor - or the computer - picks six numbers between 1 and 54. The odds of winning the Lotto on a two- play ticket are 12.9 million to one.