- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

ATLANTA (AP) Erika Greene, a 20-year-old warehouse worker who had never bought lottery tickets before this week, yesterday claimed one of the three winning tickets in the $331 million Big Game jackpot.
"I said, 'I know I'm seeing this wrong. It's got to be wrong,'" Miss Greene said. But her mother confirmed the winning combination 7, 10, 25, 26, 27 and bonus number 23.
The other two winning tickets were sold in Illinois and New Jersey but no one immediately stepped forward to claim part of the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history.
Miss Greene said she spent all the money she was carrying $10 to buy 10 tickets about two hours before Tuesday night's drawing at a store in Dacula, about two miles from her home and 30 miles northeast of Atlanta in suburban Gwinnett County.
She said she selected numbers on one ticket and let the computer pick the others. The winning combination came from one of the computer-generated numbers.
Each of the three winning tickets is worth $110,333,333, but ticket buyers can choose payments over 26 years or a smaller, one-time sum. Greene chose the cash option and will receive $58,938,743 before taxes.
She said she had never played the lottery before Tuesday, but she beat the 76 million-to-1 odds.
Miss Greene said she isn't sure how the money will affect her plan to live a quiet life as a housewife, but she hopes the attention doesn't get too intense. She has a boyfriend the first person she called after learning she won but is not engaged.
"I really just don't know," she said. "I'm still in shock right now. I know I want my house, and I want my land, and I want my car."
Miss Greene said her boyfriend, Mike Swofford, didn't believe her when she first told him the news: "I think I said, 'Baby, I won!'"
The jackpot had been growing since early February, with no jackpot winners in 18 consecutive drawings. The U.S. lottery jackpot record remains $363 million, split by two Big Game winners in 2000.
Illinois lottery officials said a winning ticket was sold at a gas station in Burbank, a suburb southwest of Chicago. The third ticket was sold in New Jersey's Union County, lottery officials said.
The Big Game, established in 1996, is played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. New York and Ohio will join next month and the game will then be called Mega Millions. Washington state also plans to join in September.
Yesterday, Miss Greene and her mother returned to the Texaco station where she bought the winning ticket. Lottery officials had just left after telling manager Neeraj Dutta that his store had sold a winner earning it $25,000.

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