Massive Mega Millions jackpot drawing thousands of players

Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 8:29 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 12:59 AM
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The thought alone makes Wilma March look up at the ceiling of the Hot Spot convenience store and smile.

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Wilma March buys a Mega Millions lottery ticket from Hot Spot convenience store manager Sam Dutta. The jackpot has reached more than $500 million.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Wilma March buys a Mega Millions lottery ticket from Hot Spot convenience store manager Sam Dutta. The jackpot has reached more than $500 million.

“What would I do with $586 million?” she asked. “I’d split it with my family, pay off some bills. I’d buy a nice piece of land with a nice house and save the rest as a nest egg. Keep it simple.”

March, a school nutrition specialist at Glenn Hills High School, is one of the projected thousands of people who will try their luck in Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot, which has grown into the second-largest in history.

The drawing at 11 p.m. will be the 22nd attempt to find a winner for the grand prize since this round began in October. After Mega Millions changed the structure of the game in October, the odds to win the grand prize have stretched from 1 in 176 million to 1 in 259 million, according to media reports.

That didn’t dishearten Mack Harris, a cook at Whiskey Bar Kitchen. Harris went to Bodie’s Shell convenience store on 13th Street to buy a ticket Monday.

He said he plays the lottery every week but doesn’t usually go for Mega Millions. This time he changed his mind when he saw the breathtaking jackpot.

“Somebody has to win it, so maybe it can be me,” he said.

Sam Dutta, the manager of Hot Spot on Skinner Mill Road, said he sees excitement build as the jackpot grows. He said 99 percent of his lottery customers are regulars – he gets to know their pets’ names and which scratch-off tickets are their favorite – but their habits change when the Mega Millions pot swells.

Those who usually only buy scratch-off tickets decide to shell out the extra dollar for a Mega Millions quick pick. He also sees new faces come in with the same request: “A Mega Million please.”

Dutta said the game is all about luck, and he thinks his store has a special touch. On Feb. 13, his store sold a $2 million Millionaire Jingle Jumbo Bucks instant ticket, to the thrill of all his regulars and employees.

Beth Broome doesn’t typically play the lottery but stopped by Bodie’s after work to grab a quick pick.

“I mean at this point, why not?” she said.

Broome, a special education teacher at Midland Valley High School, said there are a lot of people she’d like to help with her winnings.

The kids at school, her family, countless charities.

When asked what she’d do for herself, she paused.

“Wow … I’d have to think about that,” she said.

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bubbasauce 12/16/13 - 10:40 pm
Oh well, I dropped $20.00

Oh well, I dropped $20.00 today on some quick picks. They are all good numbers until they draw them!

bdouglas 12/17/13 - 03:47 pm
Come buy your tickets in SC

Come buy your tickets in SC where you can remain anonymous, unlike in GA! Keep all those "friends" and "family" at bay by keeping your name out of the news. ;)

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