, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 30, 2012

Lines grow long as lottery jackpot fever peaks

SALISBURY — The record jackpot being drawn tonight could mean longer lines at package and convenience stores today as customers with champagne wishes and caviar dreams wait to buy their tickets.

Players have until 10:45 tonight to buy their $1 Mega Millions tickets for a chance to win the record-setting $540 million jackpot with a cash option of $389 million.

"I certainly want to throw a dollar in to catch the dream," said Phil Jones, manager of Route 110 Liquors in Amesbury.

The store has seen its share of customers buying the tickets, including a woman on Wednesday who bought $200 worth of tickets.

The projected jackpot stood at $476 million Wednesday morning, but lottery officials revised the number to $540 million.

Factors such as ticket sales and interest in the prize could drive the jackpot higher.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts are among 42 states that participate in Mega Millions.

Eddie Lepore, the manager of One Stop in Salisbury, said today will be "nonstop."

"When it's this high, it does get real busy," Lepore said.

By yesterday afternoon, 500 tickets were sold at the store, which is double the amount of Mega Millions tickets usually sold, Lepore said.

Diane Green said she doesn't usually buy lottery tickets because of the horrible odds, but she made an exception for this jackpot. The odds of winning are about 176 million to one.

In recent years, Green won two $10,000 jackpots and a $50,000 jackpot with scratch tickets. She said those winnings went to her children's tuition payments.

The $540 million prize surpasses the old record jackpot of $390 million, drawn in March 2007. The jackpot also is a world lottery record, officials said.

Mega Millions drawings are Tuesday and Friday. The jackpot has grown over nine weeks. The last time someone won was Jan. 24. Marcia Adams of Atlanta claimed the $72 million prize.

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