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California Lottery Begins With Fanfare; Over 10 Million Tickets Sold

October 4, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Zealots bought about 11 million tickets that apparently produced scores of $5,000 winners in the early hours of California’s new lottery, which premiered with parties, parades and promotions.

Lottery Director Mark Michalko reported in Hollywood that within 51/2 hours of the kickoff at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, 90 players apparently had become the first to win top instant prizes of $5,000. The Sacramento lottery headquarters hopes today to validate some of those winning tickets, as well as some for smaller amounts, so the prizes can be awarded.

Based upon a survey of 200 retailers, and other factors, Michalko projected that 10.9 million tickets had been sold in the first 81/2 hours of the lottery.

Sales were so heavy that officials scrambled to resupply stores.

Lottery spokesmen identified four of the early $5,000 winners as Cecelia Ducty of Grass Valley, Maurice Ghatgas of Anaheim, Larry White of Oxnard, and Randy Mullenix of Rancho Cordova.

Mullenix, 30, told The Associated Press that he bought 25 tickets at a Sacramento gas station. The 23rd ticket was the winner.

″I jumped, I started screaming and I’m not really the kind of person to do that,″ he said.

Meanwhile, Gov. George Deukmejian, a longtime opponent of state-supported gambling, declined to participate in or comment Thursday on the $1 million Hollywood-style kickoff ceremonies.

But for many, Thursday was party time. The lottery, with an initial 400 million $1 tickets, is expected to soon generate record jackpots, sales and headaches. One-third of gross sales are earmarked to support public education.

Entertainer Steve Allen was the headliner for a Hollywood Bowl gala Thursday night, featuring a fireworks-laser show finale.

In addition, midday celebrations were held in San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

At about 12:30 p.m. throughout the state, most retailers began selling the $1 ″California Jackpot″ scratch-off tickets, which offer ″instant″ prizes of $2, $5, $100, $500, $1,000 and $5,000.

To play, participants scrape the covering off six spots on the ticket, hoping to find three matching dollar symbols. Three $2 symbols mean a $2 prize.

Two- and five-dollar prizes are supposed to be claimed on the spot from only that retailer, but players must send winning tickets and claim forms to lottery headquarters for larger jackpots.

Hundred-dollar winners also may participate in TV drawings beginning Oct. 21 for prizes of $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, or a $2 million jackpot.

Last Nov. 6, 58 percent of those casting ballots, changed the state constitution to allow lotteries and ordered the games to start March 22.

Deukmejian’s cautious approach delayed the kickoff 61/2 months.

The initial ″instant-winner″ ticket games will be followed in mid-1986 by the addition of lotto-type numbers games played through computer terminals.

Sales of $1 billion to $2 billion annually are expected to make California’s lottery one of the world’s largest.

Half of the gross sales will go back to players in prizes and up to 16 percent will go to administration, promotion and ticket outlet commissions. The remaining third will go to public education, but the revenue overall will amount at most to 4 percent of schools’ existing budgets.

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