Final Day Rush Expected in Florida’s $94 Million Lottery Jackpot
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Lotto tickets sold at a clip of 30,000 a minute Friday as players converged on Florida lottery outlets to take a shot at Saturday’s $94 million jackpot.
Cab drivers, psychics and street vendors helped players get to tickets while an unidentified Florida player calling himself ″the Phantom″ completed his buy of 80,000 tickets.
″He wants to win the big one,″ said Debi Tanner, an employee at Smitty’s Place, a bar in Fruit Grove, a small northeast Florida community. The Phantom was described only as a middle-class resident of the town.
She said the bar’s lottery machine ran between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. each day since Monday to take care of the Phantom’s order and about 17,000 other ticket purchases.
The lottery meant extra business for Florida cab drivers. Wayne Smith, a United Cab dispatcher, said people have been flying in from ″all over″ for a shot at the grand prize.
″We get quite a few people who just want to get Lotto tickets,″ said Smith. ″They usually have the driver wait while they play, then take them right back to the airport.″
Lottery spokesman Ed George said the lottery installed extra terminals at 40 top sales locations, many along the Georgia and Alabama lines, to handle the added demand.
At Casey’s Liquors in Yulee on the Georgia line, a steady queue of 50 to 70 people waited to buy the $1 tickets.
″There was already a line when we opened up this morning,″ owner Chuck Casey said. He said most of the tickets were sold to people from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.
In New York, a free-lance salesman was peddling the $1 tickets for $5 apiece.
″Going real smooth on Wall Street,″ said Abe Goldstein, who was selling Florida Lotto tickets on a midtown Manhattan street corner. ″Great profit margin.″
The winning six numbers, between 1 and 49, will be announced at 11 p.m. Saturday. A grand prize winner must have all six.
Despite odds of 14 million to one, more than 90 million tickets will be sold by the time of the drawing, George said.
The grand prize has rolled over four times since its original $6 million jackpot a month ago. The $94 million prize is the second highest ever offered by Florida’s lottery. Six winners split a $106.5 million prize in September 1990.
The national record, $118.8 million, was shared by 10 winners earlier this year and 14 players shared a $115.6 million Pennsylvania jackpot in April 1989.