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HOPE wins big with Mega Millions cash

ATLANTA — Georgia Lottery officials say the record Mega Millions jackpot generated $25.2 million for the HOPE scholarship and prekindergarten programs in the state.

Officials said Tuesday that the $656 million jackpot – the largest ever in U.S. lottery history – spurred the Georgia Lottery’s highest week of sales in its 20-year history.

Sales soared to $115 million for the week ending March 31, which is $14 million more than the previous weekly sales record.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. So far, no one has claimed the jackpot, though winning tickets were sold in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

Sanford fine cut to $150 in dog escape

SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. — Former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford got her day in court and will pay only a $150 fine for her dog escaping her beachfront home on Sullivans Island.

Sanford appeared before Municipal Judge Larry Duffy on Tuesday to plead her case after she was fined more than $1,000 when her black lab Julius made a break for freedom back in February.

Town officials said the fine was high because it wasn’t the first time police had to round up one of the Sanford’s dogs.

But Sanford said the fine was too high and didn’t fit the offense.

The judge said he doesn’t remember ever fining a resident $1,000 for an escaped dog. Sanford said she was fined earlier for a dog escape and paid only $90.

Haley promotes book in New York

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley was in New York on Tuesday to promote the release of her book, Can’t Is Not An Option, including a scheduled appearance on The Colbert Report with Charleston native Stephen Colbert.

The Republican governor was headed next to Washington before her in-state book tour begins Monday in Charleston. But she said the book is not about promoting her national profile or any role in a future Republican administration. Haley endorsed and campaigned for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“If offered any position by Gov. Romney, I would say no,” she said. “The people of South Carolina gave me a chance. I have a job to do and I’m not going to leave my job for anything.”

In other news

STEPHEN MCDANIEL, 26, accused of killing a Mercer University law school graduate, pleaded not guilty Tuesday. The hearing ended with no decision on bond. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against McDaniel, who is accused of killing and dismembering Lauren Giddings, 27, whose torso was found wrapped in plastic in a garbage bin.


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Turkeys taste own medicine

I got up and out of my sickbed so I could write this column because it’s time for the annual Turkey of the Year awards, the highlight of the holiday season.
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