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$89-Million Jackpot Attracts Throngs of Super Lotto Players

Lottery: Many who hope to beat the odds line up for hours at popular ticket venues, such as Bluebird Liquors.

March 04, 2001|NEDRA RHONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Visions of early retirement, luxury cars and philanthropic pursuits danced in the heads of Angelenos hoping to win big in Saturday's Super Lotto Plus drawing.

Many dream seekers clogged sidewalks, parked illegally and, occasionally, lost their tempers as they waited hours to purchase a ticket for Saturday's $89-million jackpot.

"It's a madhouse. A zoo!" said Ronnie Mason, the security officer stationed at the door of Bluebird Liquors, one of the most popular ticket retailers. A crowd began forming outside the store at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. The store opened at 7 a.m.

And although the numbers were drawn at 7:59 p.m. Saturday, lottery officials will not know if there are any winners until 6 a.m. today. But the wait is probably no more unbearable than what people did or endured to get tickets in the first place.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday March 8, 2001 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Lottery--The name of a security guard was misspelled in a story about a lottery winner in Sunday's Times. The correct spelling is Ronnie Manson. In some editions, the drawing time was incorrectly reported. It was 7:59 p.m.

Tim Laviano drove 45 minutes from Orange County to the Hawthorne store because he had heard it was lucky. Arriving at 11:30 a.m., he waited an hour and a half to buy $10 worth of tickets.

"I thought: I can sleep in or get up," the 27-year-old said. "At least this way I have a chance at becoming a millionaire."

Mason, the security guard at Bluebird, said he is glad this kind of Lotto mayhem happens only once a year. But this actually happens less often.

The jackpot was the third-largest in the history of the California State Lottery, said Norma Minas, a spokeswoman. The largest was $118 million in 1991 and the second largest was $104 million in 1998.

At George's Liquor in Chinatown, lines were not as long, but a steady stream of ticket buyers kept the store's two machines ticking.

"Usually they buy $10," said store owner Tony Chang, "Today they are buying $20, $50."

The $89-million jackpot, which prompted so many people to buy so many more tickets, was calculated based on past lottery trends and hourly tracking of actual ticket sales, Minas said.

The amount an individual wins depends on the number of winning tickets.

Some thought they could beat the odds.

"I have a strategy," said Brenda Smith, 42, waiting in line at Bluebird with two of her children. "I go to different spots to buy my lottery tickets."

Smith toted a clear plastic binder bursting with dogeared tickets on which she writes store locations and numeric combinations for future tickets.

Others were less systematic. "I believe in faith. If I don't get it, it is support for the schools," said Gustaaf Atmadja, 49, at George's, referring to the one-third of lottery proceeds that goes to public education.

As customers waited at Bluebird for good fortune, the Firestone Tire shop next door was already reaping rewards. Ticket buyers had started dropping off their cars for service.

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