Mega Millions stakes excite ticket buyers

Mega frenzy

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Mike Tweedy buys lottery tickets only if the stakes are “really high.” He said Friday’s $640 million Mega Millions jackpot definitely qualifies.

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Fannie Roberts (left) sells Michael Tweedy a lottery ticket in Augusta at Bodie's Shell on 13th Street. An estimated $1.46 billion in tickets were sold for the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Fannie Roberts (left) sells Michael Tweedy a lottery ticket in Augusta at Bodie's Shell on 13th Street. An estimated $1.46 billion in tickets were sold for the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “It’s hard even to begin to think about all of that.”

Margie Jenifer buys lottery tickets frequently, and she said the 175 million-to-1 odds don’t bother her too much.

“It could happen,” she said. “It’s just really fun to play. I’d buy all the tickets if I could.”

Jenifer has won a few hundred dollars in past lottery games, and said if she won the jackpot she would give to her family and friends first.

“I would take a week to just think about it before I came out and told people,” she said. “That’s a whole lot of money.”

The line wasn’t long for Tweedy and Jenifer at Bodie’s Shell on 13th Street in Augusta on Friday afternoon. They talked about stories they have heard about the lottery making winners’ lives worse rather than better.

“It makes people crazy,” Jenifer said. “I think if I won, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life so I wouldn’t go crazy. I’m happy the way things are.”

Tweedy listened to Jenifer and laughed to himself.

“That doesn’t scare me,” he said. “I’ll take my chances with a lot of money.”

The previous record Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million in 2007, and was split between two ticketholders in Georgia and New Jersey. It will be early this morning before lottery officials verify whether there are any winning tickets, according to the Mega Millions Web site.

Americans were expected to spend $1.46 billion on tickets. Buyers lined up this week in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The jackpot, if taken as a $462 million lump sum works out to about $347 million after federal tax withholding.

Associated Press and Reuters reports were used in this story.

WHAT IF THERE  IS NO WINNER?

If no one won Friday, the jackpot will grow to $975 million. Lottery officials are considering moving the next drawing to Times Square in New York City as anticipation and the jackpot build.

– Reuters

WHAT COULD YOUR MONEY BUY?

WASHINGTON — Americans are expected to spend $1.46 billion on Mega Millions lottery tickets. With the money that’s been spent pursuing the record $640 million jackpot, you could:

• Feed 238,000 American families for a year.

• Buy a 73 percent share of the Los Angeles Dodgers, based on the $2 billion that Magic Johnson and other investors agreed to pay this week for the baseball franchise.

• Stock up on 228 tons of Beluga caviar.

• Trim this year’s expected $1.3 trillion federal deficit by just over one-tenth of 1 percent.

• Take 26 trips to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

• Buy 10 F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets

• Treat 685,000 average U.S. households to gasoline for a full year.

• Quadruple the $349 million that President Obama and his Republican challengers spent on their presidential campaigns through February this year.

• Pay for just under 3½ hours’ worth of federal spending.

• Buy nearly 3 million new iPads at the starting price of $499 – almost as many as Apple has already sold.

• Pay a year’s worth of health care expenses for 462,000 American average families.

• Finance the making of the blockbuster movie “The Hunger Games” 19 times over.

• Provide a week of unemployment benefits for nearly 40 percent of America’s 12.8 million unemployed.

– Associated Press

MEGA MILLIONS

Friday night’s winning numbers

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