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Lottery Winners in Mich., Illinois

May 10, 2000

UTICA, Mich. (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 $366 million.

There were no immediate details on who the winners are.

One of the two tickets was sold at Mr. K’s Party Shoppe near Utica, 20 miles north of Detroit. Owner George Kassab and four sons were so thrilled that they opened up at 6 a.m., three hours early.

``I’m very excited _ I’m happy for the winner,″ Kassab said. ``I was hoping it was me. I bought a few tickets.″

The other winning ticket was sold at Sweeney’s Citgo in the northwestern Chicago suburb of Lake Zurich, Ill. Assistant manager Ginny Gallagher said lottery officials called her at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

``I screamed at the girl on the phone, I was so excited,″ Gallagher said. The store has sold about $100,000 worth of Big Game tickets in the past few weeks.

The winning numbers drawn Tuesday night in Atlanta were 1, 2, 12, 33, 37 and Big Money Ball 4. To win, a ticket had to match all of those numbers _ odds of one in more than 76 million.

The second winning ticket was sold in the northwestern Chicago suburb of Lake Zurich, said Lori Montana, director of the Illinois Lottery. She didn’t provide further details, but confirmed the jackpot had grown from an estimated $350 million just a day earlier.

While the drawings are held in Atlanta, results are handled by the individual state lotteries participating in the Big Game, in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia.

By 7 a.m., officials had confirmed that the only winning tickets were the two sold in the Midwest.

``At least I only lost a dollar,″ said Robert Holland, a bartender at the East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge.

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.

The amounts the winners will take home depends on state taxes in Michigan and Illinois.

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.

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 pick their 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.


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