- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

Lottery officials say Virginia's day is coming. Some lucky player in the state for lovers will be kissing millions of dollars in Big Game or some other multi-state game winnings soon.
Like when? Well, maybe not that soon, history suggests.
So far, the Big Game hasn't treated Virginia players kindly. The state was shut out again Tuesday, when three players from Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey walked off with the $331 million prize enough to give each citizen of the commonwealth almost $47,000.
Twenty-two of 73 jackpot winners since the seven-state game started in 1996 have been from Illinois. That is almost one out of every three of the Big Game top prizes.
Three winning Big Game jackpot tickets have been sold in Virginia, the lowest number among the seven states.
"It makes me wish I could buy my ticket out of state," said Robert Smith, a regular lottery player from Chesapeake.
Maryland has sold twice as many winning tickets as Virginia. New Jersey has had eight winners; Massachusetts and Michigan, 11 each; and Georgia, 12.
"There's no question about it," Virginia Lottery spokesman Ed Scarborough said. "We're long overdue."
Still, the statistics make sense, Mr. Scarborough said. Where there are more players, there are more winners.
Virginia ranks among the bottom three states in Big Game ticket sales. It contributed about $421 million, or 11 percent, of the $3.74 billion in ticket sales over the past six years. Illinois, with a much larger population, contributed more than twice that much: about $918 million.
Still, Virginia's odds baffle statisticians.
The state should have won 11 percent of the jackpots instead of 4 percent, said N. Rao Chaganty, statistics program director at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
"It seems Virginians aren't picking good numbers," he said. "It looks like there are smarter people in Massachusetts and Illinois."
And no, nobody won in Virginia on Friday night when the jackpot was down to $5 million.
Then again, nobody won anywhere.

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