Lottery fever hits Marietta

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Tony LeMaster, 72, of Devola, purchases lottery tickets at Giant Eagle Wednesday.

With a one in 302.5 million chance of winning, there’s $900 million on the table with a lottery jackpot this week.

“I think it will get really busy starting (tonight)– that’s when it will get crazy,” said Peoples News Clerk Steven Martin, working in the Marietta store on Wednesday. “And I’ll see a little rush here after people get off work and on their lunch breaks. A whole group of ladies from the courthouse came in and bought $100 worth of tickets today.”

On Wednesday the jackpot number jumped from $868 million to $900 million for the Mega Millions game which is played in 44 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Some people are just addicted to these tickets,” said Lori Ebra, the clerk selling tickets at Giant Eagle Wednesday. “But most will split their buys between the Powerball and the Mega Millions.”

Tony LeMaster, 72, of Devola, is a regular of Ebra’s who stopped by to put $26 on tickets Wednesday.

“I don’t know what my No. 1 purchase would be,” he said. “I’ve just got a big list of people and organizations I would help. And of course Lori.”

Andrew Lisk, owner of Lisk Lawn Care, said he would look to support first responders if he won the motherload.

“New schools and new fire stations and apparatus for the local fire departments,” he said. “(Then) invest in broadband internet if there was any money left.”

Likewise, Nicole Fortune, of Oak Grove, said she’d start with charitable giving, pay off debt and then travel.

“I’d take a crazy long trip to Alaska,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go, (it’s) a dream destination. I want to see the Northern Lights, a glacier and all of the snow.”

Noelle Metz, 27, of Marietta, bought a couple tickets Wednesday at the Smoker Friendly in Marietta, saying she wouldn’t know how to spend it all.

“I’d probably pay off the house first and then be really irresponsible with the rest,” she laughed.

“People go crazy over them,” said Sue Benasutty, manager of the store. “Plus it’s only $2 a ticket and you can pay an extra dollar and increase your winnings too.”

The big win could happen as soon as Friday night, when the next drawing is to be held.

And according to the Associated Press, winners can remain anonymous in only six states: Ohio, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and South Carolina. For winners of $5,000 or more, all states automatically deduct 24 percent in federal taxes, then state and local income taxes vary but in general taxes eat up nearly half of the winnings.

By the numbers:

• The Mega Millions jackpot raised to $900 million Wednesday.

• This is the second largest jackpot in U.S. history behind a $1.6 billion prize in January 2016.

• Mega Millions has existed since 1996.

• The Mega Millions ticket price is $2.

• Chances of winning are one in 302.5 million.

Source: Associated Press.