- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

ATLANTA (AP) Consider the morbid math: A dreamer looking to win the \$325 million Big Game lottery is 16 times more likely to get killed driving to the gas station to buy a ticket.
Still, the near-impossible odds didn't deter the thousands of people rushing to snap up tickets for tonight's drawing for the second-biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
The odds of winning are 1 in 76 million.
"It's greed. Greed clouds good judgment," said Les Krantz, a probability expert who was busy calculating dozens of comparisons to show just how unlikely winning is. Nevertheless, he was holding a ticket himself.
"If you don't have a ticket, your odds drop to zero," reasoned Glenn Gosselin, who bought a ticket at Neighborhood Food Store in Springfield, Mass., where the Big Game line wound from the cash register to the door.
The jackpot in the game played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia climbed \$25 million yesterday after strong sales during the weekend.
By the time of the drawing, the prize could pass the U.S. record of \$363 million, split by two Big Game winners in 2000.
A single winner could take the cash over 26 years or accept a one-time \$174 million payout with at least one-third of that taken out for taxes, of course. Players must pick the payout option when buying the ticket.
Darryl Hutchinson was pondering the decision as he prepared to buy 10 tickets at a gas station in Roanoke.
"I'd retire. I'd buy a house and maybe a fishing boat," he said.
Still, the odds are thousands of times higher that the Earth will be destroyed by a meteorite than that one of Hutchinson's tickets will be a winner, Mr. Krantz said.
More perspective: A person's chance of being hit by lightning in a lifetime is 1 in 9,100 more than 8,000 times more likely than being the next Big Game winner, he said.
The jackpot has been growing since early February. Eighteen drawings have been held without anyone hitting the jackpot.