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3 Winning Tickets Sold in $325-Million Lottery

April 18, 2002|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — A young woman claimed a third of the $325-million Big Game jackpot Wednesday and said it was the first time she had ever played the multi-state lottery. Two other winning tickets were sold in Illinois and New Jersey, but there were no immediate claimants.

Erika Greene, 20, said she spent $10 on tickets. "That's all the money I had on me," she told reporters.

About two hours before Tuesday night's drawing, Greene bought her tickets at a convenience store in the small northern Georgia town of Dacula, about two miles from her home.

She said she selected numbers on one ticket and let the computer pick the nine others. One of the computer-generated numbers had the winning combination--07, 10, 25, 26, 27 and bonus number 23.

Each of the three winning tickets is worth $108,333,333 in the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history. Big Game ticket buyers can choose payments over 26 years or a smaller, onetime sum; because Greene opted for the single payout, her winnings would be about $58 million, lottery officials said.

Greene said she planned to have someone else handle the money for her.

"I'm going to invest it and spend it wisely," said Greene, who works at a cell phone office. "I'm not going to work, no. I'm going to invest and let the money work for me."

She arrived at the lottery office in a stretch limousine with her boyfriend and her mother. She said she planned to buy a car and a house, but had no plans after that.

Georgia Lottery Corp. President Rebecca Paul said she could not immediately confirm that Greene held the winning ticket, but the convenience store manager, Neerej Dutta, said Greene had already showed it to him. Dacula is about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Illinois state lottery officials said a winning ticket was sold at a gas station in Burbank, a suburb southwest of Chicago.

"I sure hope it's one of my regulars," said Speedway gas station manager Debbie Murnane.

Jan Reichard said that when she and other employees sold tickets for the drawing, "we were teasing them that we wanted Cadillacs."

The third ticket matching all five numbers and the Big Money ball was sold in New Jersey's Union County, lottery officials said.

The odds of winning were 76 million to 1.

The Big Game is played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. Its largest jackpot was in 2000, when two winners split $363 million.

The game is going to get even bigger next month when New York and Ohio join and the name is changed to Mega Millions. Washington state also plans to join in September.

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