Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Article excerpt

Susan Wagner of Friendship had never bought a Mega Millions ticket before. But tonight's record $540 million jackpot proved to be too tantalizing.

"I saw it on the news, and I thought, 'I have to play. I have to take a chance.' Why not?" she said after purchasing her single ticket Thursday at Tobacco Outlet on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield.

She is not alone. Lottery dealers throughout Pennsylvania -- and in 41 other states -- have seen ticket sales skyrocket and anticipate long lines today as people become players with hopes of striking it rich.

"It's going to sound corny, but I could do a whole lot of good with that money," said Ms. Wagner, a sculptor who dreams of owning her own foundry. "My family, friends. But I'm not lucky. I went to the casino and lost $6, and I'm done. I'm not a gambler. I work hard for that money."

Because it was her first time purchasing a Mega Millions ticket, Ms. Wagner had to have the rules -- five numbers between 1 and 56, with a Megaball between 1 and 46 -- explained to her.

While it might sound simple enough, the odds of winning the jackpot are against you -- to the tune of 1-in-175,711,536.

The fact is, there hasn't been a Mega Millions jackpot-winning ticket sold in Pennsylvania since the state joined the game in January 2010. That's 786 days -- two years and two months -- without a big winner.

Contrast that with the Powerball, which produced a state jackpot winner within 77 days of Pennsylvania joining in September 2002.

Part of the reason for the disparity could be in the popularity of the two games.

Amy Ford, who sells tickets at Tobacco Beer Outlet on McKnight Road in Ross, said she noticed a dramatic drop in the number of Powerball players when the cost of a ticket doubled to $2 in January.

"I think a lot of people thought they were getting ripped off," she said. "Mega Millions hasn't been real popular before, but now that it's up there, it's selling a lot. Things change."

Stephen Boyan, manager of Tobacco Outlet in Bloomfield, said most of his customers are regulars, who tend to stick with the same games -- and even the same lucky numbers -- every time they stop in. …

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