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Two Tickets Have Right Numbers to Split $51 Million Jackpot

June 5, 1988

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The numbers game turned into a waiting game Sunday as California Lottery officials waited for holders of two winning tickets to claim a $51.2 million jackpot, the biggest ever in a North American lottery.

The holders of the winning tickets cannot claim their share of the prize until the start of business Monday. Each winning ticket in Saturday’s Lotto 6-49 drawing is worth $25,618,116, payable over 20 years, said lottery spokesman John Schade.

The lottery’s computers determined that the two winning tickets were sold at a liquor store in Fairfield, about 45 miles east of San Francisco, and at a supermarket in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael. The computers cannot identify the owners of the tickets, though.

The winners will be announced when they present their tickets at lottery offices for verification.

A small crowd of reporters and store employees gathered at the Carmichael supermarket, hoping the winning ticketholder would come in to announce the win.

″They usually show up at the retail outlet,″ said lottery spokeswoman Susan Kossack, who was waiting at the store. ″We’ve had big, big winners never surface ... but with jackpots this size, I don’t think that will happen.″

″It’s just crazy right now,″ said store clerk Sheri Routh. ″So far we don’t know who the customer is, but we have all the news stations here.″

The odds of picking all six numbers out of 49 were about one in 14 million, said lottery officials. The winning numbers were 48, 42, 9, 14, 19, 31. Tickets cost $1 each.

The waiting game capped three days of frenzied Lotto playing.

At the peak, sales hit $4 million an hour. Sales on Saturday alone totaled more than $33 million, a one-day record, spokesman Bob Taylor said. Weekly sales normally average about $23 million, officials said.

Lotto players clutching $20 bills were lined up 40 deep by 6 p.m. Saturday at a bakery in Oakland.

″We’ve had people buying $1,000 worth of tickets, $400, $600 ... $50 is nothing. There are $50 buyers all over the place,″ said bakery president Walter Harmon.

The late rush pumped millions of extra dollars into the grand prize pot before sales were halted at 7:45 p.m. Saturday, 13 minutes before the drawing.

″At 4 p.m., our ticket sales pushed the Lotto prize past $46 million, past the Pennsylvania record,″ previously the biggest North American lottery prize, Taylor said Saturday.

That Pennsylvania jackpot was awarded in October. The biggest previous California jackpot, $25.4 million, was split by two players in October.

The lottery drew players across state lines and from Mexico. At Tahoe Tom’s in South Lake Tahoe, the fat pot drew Nevada residents away from casinos across the border, three blocks away.

″We were joking yesterday that it would be funny to have the (ticket) line up to the state line and have the casino executives wonder what’s going on,″ said owner Tom Erickson.

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