CA catches Mega Millions fever - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

CA catches Mega Millions fever

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June 21, 2005

Albany- There's no rush to get tickets for Tuesday night's $31 million jackpot. Even though that's more money than most of us can dream about spending, it's really only enough to keep the attention of lotto regulars. But, beginning tomorrow, the Golden State will have it's chance to get a piece of the Mega Millions pie, a change that could send the jackpot soaring higher than ever.

Clerks at Woodall's are used to processing dozens of lottery tickets every day for their customers.

"Out of ten about five of them will purchase a lottery ticket," says Melissa Williams.

But this week, she says some of her regulars have played, because new changes have prevented them from being able to choose all their usual options.

"All of people didn't know about the change in it, so they're not buying. Some of them have multi-draws and they won't even buy at all."

The multi-draw option allows you to choose numbers on one ticket that can be played in both the Tuesday and Friday drawing, but this Friday the Mega Millions game will get a big time change as millions of Californians are allowed to join the player pool.

"That's a good idea. There's a heap of people down there in California. It's a real good idea," says Edward Smith.

California will become the 12th Mega Millions state. That means more players, a faster-growing jackpot, and a better chance of exceeding the game's record jackpot of $363 million in 2000, something Georgia players aren't complaining about.

"That way I'll start playing, get rich, and I won't even have to go into the Army," Smith says.

Officials say lottery sales for the fiscal year that ends this month were even better than expected, allowing the Georgia lottery to funnel even more money into educational programs like the HOPE scholarship and pre-K. Now, adding millions more players to their hottest game, could result in a bigger return for the programs.

"That will be good for the students who are graduating, especially those unfortunate ones who can't afford to go to college to help them out too," says Williams.

Only the money generated in Georgia can go to the state's educational programs, but bigger jackpots bring out more Georgia players, not to mention residents in neighboring states who make special trips across the state line to play for big bucks.

Officials say the chances if winning the jackpot will go from 1 in 135 million to 1 in 175 million. Some of the other Mega Million prize amounts will also change starting Wednesday. When someone wins the big prize, the minimum jackpot for the next drawing will start at $12 million instead of $10 million.

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