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Big Game Lottery Winners Reported

May 10, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ Winning tickets in the Big Game lottery were sold in Michigan and Illinois, officials announced today, dashing the hopes of millions whose frenzied buying in seven states pushed the jackpot to a record $350 million.

Mike Lang, a spokesman for the Illinois Lottery, confirmed that a ticket matching numbers drawn Tuesday night in Atlanta had been sold somewhere in the state. Details were not immediately available.

The other ticket was sold at Mr. K’s Party Shoppe in Shelby Township near Utica, about 20 miles north of Detroit.

``Thank God,″ said a laughing Sarah Lapshan, a Michigan Lottery spokeswoman.

The winning numbers were 1, 2, 12, 33, 37 and Big Money Ball 4. To win, a ticket has to match all of those numbers.

It was not immediately known whether there were other winning tickets. While the drawing is held in Atlanta, the results are handled by individual state lotteries. Results from other participating states were still being tallied early today.

The odds of having all five winning numbers and the Big Money Ball were one in more than 76 million.

``At least I only lost a dollar,″ Robert Holland, a bartender at the East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge, said after Tuesday night’s drawing.

Others weren’t as lucky. Some players plopped down hundreds of dollars in the hopes of becoming instant millionaires. Others pooled their money with coworkers and friends to buy more chances.

The world lottery record is $1.2 billion, set in December by Spain’s El Gordo, or the Fat One. But that game awards thousands of prizes.

The Big Game jackpot easily topped the previous American record, a $295.7 million Powerball jackpot split by 13 machinists in Westerville, Ohio, two years ago.

After taxes, based on federal and Georgia state taxes, the Big Game payout on a single winning ticket is either $8.9 million a year for 26 years, or a one-time payment of $114 million. The state tax varies among the seven states in which tickets are sold _ Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia.

The excitement surrounding the game had people lined up at gas stations and convenience stores for days. In Virginia, so many people tried to access the lottery’s Web site that the server crashed.

Edward Franco, who bought his tickets at Union Station in Chicago, said he knew exactly what he would do if he won.

``I’m going to walk into the closest Harley (Davidson) shop and not even haggle,″ he said. ``Just get some keys and ride ... I don’t even know if I’ll put a call in to work.″

The hype surrounding the Big Game has created problems for some. Alcoholics can avoid bars, but compulsive gamblers have a hard time avoiding lottery advertisements, news stories and talk around the office water cooler.

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington, said hard-core gamblers _ who make up about 1 to 2 percent of the adult population _ play because of an overwhelming need to gamble, not because of the size of the jackpot.

Some people in Georgia and Massachusetts almost didn’t get a chance to try to pick the lucky numbers because damaged phone lines shut down hundreds of lottery terminals.

Problems with BellSouth phone lines closed about 370 retailers in northeast Georgia until Tuesday afternoon. The problem was worse in southeastern Massachusetts, where an accidentally cut fiber-optic cable disabled between 750 and 1,000 lottery agents.

Alfred Pawlowski, general manager at Vista Donuts in Attleboro, Mass., said he lost thousands of customers after his terminals went down.

``People have been turned away with envelopes full of money,″ he said.

The prize also brought out some novice lottery players, including Atlanta’s Brian James.

``That’s a lot of money,″ he said. ``I would definitely make that investment.″

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On the Net:

Big Game: http://www.theofficialbiggame.com

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