Big Game May Exceed $300M


Monday, May 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


ATLANTA (AP) — A record $300 million jackpot for the next Big Game drawing may go even higher as lottery outlets in seven states prepare for a flood of ticket buyers over the next two days.

The estimate for the next drawing could spike upward as early as today when lottery officials from the seven states confer by telephone to decide whether weekend sales were enough to justify a bigger jackpot.

The final estimate for the next drawing will be made after another telephone session on Tuesday morning, and even that could be a little higher if there's a rush on lottery machines before the 11 p.m. EDT drawing.

``If sales are going strong or are higher than anticipated or if the bond interest rates go higher — that also helps us increase the jackpot,'' said Virginia Haines, New Jersey Lottery executive director.

The nation's previous record lottery jackpot was $295.7 million, set in the multistate Powerball game in 1998. That prize was shared by 13 machinists from Westerville, Ohio.

The frantic pace of ticket sales leading up to Friday's drawing had increased the jackpot from $230 million to $250 million just in the hours before that night's numbers were picked.

Total sales from last Tuesday's drawing to Friday night exceeded $122 million. New Jersey led with sales of nearly $34 million. The game also is played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia.

Haines attributed record New Jersey sales to large volumes of ticket buyers from New York and Pennsylvania, states which don't participate in multistate games.

With the number of players attracted to the huge jackpot, lottery officials predicted multiple winners.

``We have so many people playing across the country, when we have a winner it seems logical to me that there might be 10 people across America that have the same six digits,'' said Penelope W. Kyle, executive director of the Virginia Lottery.

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