- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

The Big Game Lottery jackpot is the third-largest ever, and merchants who have seen only modest ticket sales in recent days expect a slew of would-be multimillionaires to come out before this evening's drawing.

Ticket buyers were virtually absent yesterday from lottery sales stores in Maryland and Virginia, despite a drawing for $153 million. Clerks weren't surprised, however; they're used to seeing a rush as the deadline approaches.

"Usually, when it gets real big like this, we get long lines on the day of the drawing," said Brian Minnick, at BJ's Pharmacy in Kensington.

Typically, when the Big Game jackpot is smaller, about 300 tickets are sold at the Kensington Pharmacy for the Tuesday and Friday drawings. Mr. Minnick estimated 500 to 600 would be sold for tonight's drawing.

A few tickets were sold Saturday and Sunday when no one won the $110 million that Big Game offered Friday night, Mr. Minnick said.

"It should be heavy tonight," said Yeshe Fana Ambaye, clerk at the 7-Eleven along Columbia Pike on the east side of Baileys Crossroads in Virginia. "Everybody wants to win."

More than 90 tickets were sold to 44 customers on Sunday at the east Baileys Crossroads 7-Eleven, Mrs. Ambaye said.

"[Tuesdays] the big line," said Fanaye G. Zewge at the 7-Eleven in Silver Spring along Georgia Avenue, just beyond the D.C. line.

Many D.C. residents will flock to Maryland to buy Big Game tickets, Mrs. Zewge said, just as Marylanders flood the District when Powerball jackpots climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hopefuls have until 10:45 p.m. tonight to buy Big Game tickets for the 11 p.m. drawing. Tickets purchased after that will contend for Friday's jackpot, said Penelope Kyle, director of the lottery in Virginia.

The Big Game Lottery is currently offered in seven states: Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey. On May 15, New York and Ohio will become the eighth and ninth participating states, followed by Washington state in November.

A winner tonight may choose to take the winnings over 26 years, at $5.88 million a year, or a lump sum. But a lump payment means the government gets a large chunk of the winnings, which would be $81.8 million after taxes, Mrs. Kyle said.

Mijoo Mi Yoo, a clerk at a 7-Eleven along Columbia Pike on the west edge of Baileys Crossroads, said she expected brisk sales before tonight's drawing. She estimated 800 tickets might be sold there today.

Vinh Cao, assistant manager of the 7-Eleven on University Boulevard in Kensington, also predicted a spike in ticket sales, with many buying more than just a $1 chance.

"They buy about five [tickets]," Mr. Cao said. "Some people buy 50 or 40 usually on the day they open [the drawing]."

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