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Looking for some luck

Friday, Mar. 30 | By Staff
Norman Brown of Rixeyville, right, buys a Mega Millions ticket for Friday's drawing from Nick Avaiya at the Warrenton Sunoco Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Randy Litzinger
Business is booming.

When the Mega Millions jackpot hit a record-setting $540 million Wednesday, people swarmed into local stores to buy their lottery tickets.

Merchants expected the trend to continue Thursday and Friday. The multi-state lottery drawing will be held Friday night.

In order to win the top prize, players must match five numbers between one and 56, and the "mega ball" number, between one and 46, in the random drawing.

Lesser cash prizes are also awarded based on various combinations of matching numbers.

The odds of winning it all are, well, astronomical. But that's done little to deter the masses.

"People are coming in who have never played before and don't know how to play. Regular customers are coming in and throwing down a lot more money than they usually do. Every customer is buying at least one ticket," said Kelly Huff, a clerk at The Plains Market and Deli.

One customer bought $100 worth of "quick picks," Huff added. Those tickets are ones in which a computer selects the numbers.

Players can also choose their own numbers by marking a card, which is then fed into the machine that prints the ticket.

"I used to choose my own numbers, but I never won, so now I just buy quick picks," said one customer, who didn't give his name.

Either way, each ticket costs $1.

That adds up quickly.

Alex Martin, a clerk at the Corner Store at Old Tavern, just across the street from the Great Meadow Field Events Center, said customers purchased more than $700 worth of Mega Millions tickets Tuesday.

By Wednesday afternoon, Martin said he sold $342 worth of Mega Millions tickets so far that day.

A few customers chose their own numbers, but the majority just got "quick picks" he said. Most people got more than one.

Martin anticipated the Mega Millions frenzy wouldn't peak until Thursday or Friday, however.

"When the jackpot is up, people who don't usually play come in," said Nader Mushin, proprietor of Nick's Market and Deli in Warrenton. "I've seen some new faces."

A lot of the people that bought tickets at the West Shirley Avenue shop were from nearby offices or businesses. The tickets they bought were for groups or "office pools," Mushin said.

On a few occasions, the person who got the group tickets also got a couple of their own, he added.

At the 7-Eleven in Marshall, clerk Kim Doffermire anticipated she'd be selling nothing but Mega Millions tickets Thursday and Friday.

"Most people won't play until the day before the drawing," she said. "The day it goes, people will be coming in and all they'll be getting is tickets, tickets, tickets."

Whether they're selecting their own numbers or letting the machine do it for them, Trcore Grant, a new clerk at the convenience store, said he's noticed some interesting trends.

"Some people that buy more than one ticket want all their numbers printed out separately. Some don't mind if they're printed out together," he said. "I guess it all depends on your superstitions."
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