Originally created 07/03/96

Powerball stops rolling; the 'Big Game' takes off



ATLANTA - Georgia's year-long love affair with the mega-million-dollar Powerball game has hit the skids.

Lottery President Rebecca Paul announced Tuesday Georgia is dumping Powerball for the newest multi-state jackpot on the block, The Big Game.

What that may mean for Georgia lottery players is no more $89-million jackpots.

They'll have to settle for $50 million or so.

But the odds of winning at least something will be much better. And winning numbers will be drawn one night earlier, on Friday rather than Saturday.

Paul said The Big Game is a better fit for Georgia because it include states of similar size.

Also, the Georgia Lottery Corp. board wasn't happy that Powerball officials wanted to begin expanding into different games.

Add the improved odds of winning and the fact that Powerball won't be competing with Georgia Lotto for Saturday sales and Paul said, "We think it makes a lot of sense for Georgia."

Georgia joined the 22-state world of Powerball June 29, 1995.

During the past year, the jackpot never eclipsed the game's all-time record - $111.2 million - but hit $89 million once, and has been popular with players because it offers the biggest potential payout for the buck.

About 1 million more Powerball tickets than Lotto tickets are sold each week. Overall sales of big jackpot games rose 25 percent last year after Georgia joined Powerball.

Nonetheless, it will be phased out in Georgia within the next six months.

Starting the weekend of Labor Day, six states, including Georgia, will begin selling tickets for The Big Game.

The other states - three of which have higher lottery sales than Georgia - are Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and Virginia.

Combined, the six states have a population of 45.8 million.

Jackpots will start at $5 million, and officials expect the top prize to reach $50 million at times.

The first drawing will be Sept. 6.

The Big Game is played similar to Powerball. Tickets are $1 and players pick five numbers from 1 to 50, then one number from 1 to 25.

Choosing the first five numbers correctly earns $150,000.

The odds of winning something are 1 in 22.4 In Powerball, the odds are 1 in 35.

The odds of winning The Big Game jackpot - getting all six numbers right - are one in 53 million.

The Big Game drawings will be held Fridays at 11 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. Powerball drawings are held Saturday nights, competing for time and attention with Georgia Lotto.