AUBURN, Mass. (AP) _ People who paid nearly $20,000 last week for state lottery tickets at a liquor store that has three times sold winning tickets for drawings on the 22nd of a month were losers this time around.

The winning ticket in Saturday night's Megabucks drawing was sold at the Big C. Fruit Bowl in Medford, a city which adjoins Boston to the north. The winner, not yet identified, will get $2,737,280 million, a state Lottery Commission spokesman said.

Three times since January 1986, E.J. Doherty's Auburn Package Store has produced Megabucks jackpot winners in drawings held on the 22nd day of the month.

But those winners were spaced out nine months apart and the last winning ticket bought at the store was just last month. And all three winning tickets were for drawings held on Wednesdays.

Before Saturday's drawing, the store in this town 45 miles west of Boston more than doubled its usual weekly sales of $8,000 worth of $1 Megabucks tickets as gamblers flocked to the store to pick six numbers from 1 to 36 on each ticket.

One group of friends at a computer firm bought $500 in tickets in vain.

''I feel like there's a relief,'' said Doherty, 31, who bought 10 tickets. ''I wasn't really superstitious before and I think this (a fourth winner) would have done it. I would have started to believe in crazy things, probably reading horoscopes.''

The next time a Megabucks drawing falls on the 22nd will be next June.

''Time will tell, you know,'' Doherty said.

Saturday's winning numbers were 2, 4, 21, 23, 26, 31.