Originally created 03/01/97

Lottery players have two big bonanzas this weekend



The rush is on to buy lottery tickets this weekend with the Georgia Lotto jackpot at $10 million and the Big Game at $21 million. Even those who don't usually play are getting in line.

"Typically, when we have a large jackpot, sales go up," Vicki C. Gavalas, media relations manager of the Georgia Lottery Corp., said Friday. "People who don't want to play at $2 million will play at $10 million. As if $2 million wasn't enough."

Sales are up for all the Georgia Lottery products, said Rebecca Paul, president and chief executive officer.

"The last two weeks in a row we've had our highest sales for two consecutive weeks, both over $36 million, and sales this week as of Thursday are $6,000 ahead of last week on Thursday," she said. "So we're confident we'll go over $36 million again this week. We're real excited. And the good thing about all that is that we're raising more money for the education programs."

The Georgia Lotto doesn't usually reach double figures before someone wins. The biggest jackpot was $28 million on Nov. 4, 1994 and the next largest was $16.3 million on Jan. 1, 1994.

The last double-figure jackpot was $13 million on Sept. 7, 1996, boosting interest in the Polk County area in northwest Georgia. Donald Blythe of Piedmont, Ala., bought a Lotto ticket at Slaughter's Grocery in Esom Hill on the Alabama border near Cedartown and shared the jackpot with Raymond Gillespie of Marietta.

The record payout on Feb. 13, $17.3 million, came in the state's Cash 3 game.

At Slaughter's Grocery, interest has been "real good," Ken Slaughter said Friday.

"In fact, we're doing a lot right now, this very minute," he said. "It's about the same between Big Game and Lotto, but if you broke it down it would probably be Lotto."

Eddie Mashburn, 44, of Jacksonville, Ala., plays Cash 3 and Fantasy 5. Each Friday he comes over the state line to Slaughter's Grocery and plays one to two numbers on Lotto and one to two on the Big Game.

"I've won $10 or $12 once or twice on Cash 3 and Fantasy Five and once I won over $40 on Cash 3," he said. "But I've never won anything big. That $10 million and $21 million is something to shoot for."

Interest was also high in Albany in southwest Georgia.

"We've been getting people in all morning," said Linda Cooper at Amoco Food Shop 22. "Friday is our big day but I'm sure we'll get the same tomorrow. It would be wonderful if somebody won with a ticket from our store."

At Citgo Food Market in Macon, where Central State Prison officer Cedric Wimberly bought the winning ticket for $4.6 million in an October drawing last year, Shane Patel said interest was high since the Lotto win.

"It's usually more for the Big Game," he said. "But people who don't usually play Lotto are coming in. People who usually just play the Big Game are playing Lotto, too."

The drawing for the Big Game is on Friday nights and the Georgia Lotto is drawn on Saturday nights.