Three Big Game Winners

Big Game jackpot winner Erica Green CBS

Three lucky people are holding winning tickets purchased for the $325 million Big Game jackpot, lottery officials announced Wednesday.

Only one of the winning ticket holders has stepped forward so far.

Georgia Lottery Corp. spokesman J. B. Landroche said a winning ticket came from Dacula, Ga., a small town 32 miles northeast of Atlanta. An employee at a Texaco store in Dacula said a woman came to the store Wednesday morning to buy cigarettes and told him she had the winning ticket.

The woman, Erika Greene, 20, lives about two miles from the store.

In Illinois, state lottery director Lori Montana said another winning ticket was sold in Bridgeview, a suburb southwest of Chicago, at a gas station.

New Jersey sold the other Big Game ticket that matched all five numbers and the Big Money ball, somewhere in Union County.

Each winning ticket is worth $108,333,333.

There were three tickets worth $150,000 each sold in Brookline, Lynn and Tyngsboro in Massachusetts. Those tickets had five correct numbers, but not the Big Money number.

Another 59 tickets worth $5,000 each — four correct numbers and the Big Money number — were sold in Massachusetts.

The odds of winning the jackpot were 76 million to one. Despite the long odds, lottery players Tuesday not only bought up tickets, but were pondering the payment options and daydreaming about how they'd spend the money.

"I just stood there and shook," Georgia winner Erika Greene told CBS affiliate WGCL-TV. "It was the first time I ever played."

"We were both in shock," added her mother. "We just set there...We had to go get a cigarette." The two women said to themselves "this is not real, the number's not going to validate."

Illinois has now had 22 Big Game jackpot winners, Montana said.

"It's absolutely all luck, however, Illinois sells a lot of tickets," she said. "Almost 30 million tickets were sold just for this game since Friday."

The Illinois gas station sold approximately $7 million in tickets Tuesday.

"I sure hope it's one of my regulars," said Speedway gas station manager Debbie Murnane. "I want a red Caddy sitting out front."

Jan Reichard said that when she and other employees sold tickets for the drawing, "We were teasing them that we wanted Cadillacs."

A check for slightly more than $1 million will be presented to the owner of the station, Montana said.

Murnane, who said she sold a $2 million winner in 1986 while working at another gas station, said the station was corporate-owned.

"I don't even know who the owner is," she said.

The jackpot was the second-largest in U.S. history. In 2000, two Big Game winners split $363 million. The Big Game is played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia.

It is going to get even bigger next month when New York, Ohio and Washington, D.C., join and the name is changed to Mega Millions.

Lottery officials say some jackpots will get close to $500 million, and the average will be $80 million. The first Mega Millions drawing will be May 17 with a jackpot of $10 million.

The Big Game, which was established in 1996 and will have its last drawing on May 14, starts at $5 million and averages $26 million.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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