Lottery suspense builds in Mass. for $355m prize

Jan 5, 2011

An air of excitement and wistful speculation surrounded lottery players across the state yesterday, as the jackpot for the Mega Millions game climbed to $355 million in anticipation of last night’s drawing.

Across the country in 41 states yesterday, 240,000 tickets a minute were being sold, sending the red hot jackpot to its third-highest in game history, according to Massachusetts Lottery spokesman Dan Rosenfeld, with an estimated cash payout option of $220 million.

The drawing was held just after 11 p.m., but Rosenfeld said any information on the sale of winning tickets would not be released until this morning. The winning numbers were: 4-8-15-25-47, with a Megaball of 42.

“Sales are a lot higher than we anticipated,’’ Rosenfeld said last night. “As of 6:45 p.m. we’ve sold nearly 6 million tickets in Massachusetts today alone.’’

The last drawing took place on New Year’s Eve, and in just four days the jackpot has jumped by more than $100 million.

Last night, many retailers said lottery sales were up significantly, as scores of would-be winners poured into convenience stores and other establishments to purchase last-minute tickets.

Andy Morgan, who works at the Common Ground Cafe in Methuen, said the atmosphere there has been chaotic.

“It is crazy,’’ Morgan said. “You’re just seeing all kinds of people coming in that don’t normally play. Lots of new faces.’’

At Border Bets & Butts in Attleboro, Chris Thornhill said business was booming.

“Lots of different faces grabbing those Mega Millions tickets,’’ he said. “But even the regular customers are buying more than usual.’’

Rosenfeld said the timing of the drawings, coming over the end of the holiday season, has been a boon to lottery sales.

“There’s a lot more commerce going on,’’ he said. “And when people are out more often, they buy more lottery tickets.’’

Of course, there is also the sheer size of the potential winnings.

Massachusetts lottery agents have sold about $26 million in tickets over the course of this 16-draw series, which has failed to produce a jackpot winner. The tickets have raised $11 million for cities and towns.

If no one won last night, the next drawing will take place on Friday.



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