Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 30, 2012

Local residents look for shot at $540M

Chances of winning Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 175 million

ASHLAND — Half a billion dollars and then some.

It’s a nearly unfathomable sum of money. And, anyone who came into such a huge amount would be worth as much, if not more, than many of today’s A-list celebrities, including Madonna and Justin Bieber.

Of course, the odds of winnng the record $540 million Mega Millions jackpot are infinitesimal — roughly one in 175 million, to be more precise.

But, that hasn’t stopped area residents from flocking to lottery retailers to purchase tickets for their shot at riches beyond their wildest dreams.

Merchants say the record jackpot has led to a massive jump in lottery ticket sales.

“We’ve seen a pretty good jump,” said Dadym Vadym, an employee of Ken’s Express Mart on 29th Street. “We’ve gone from selling about 100 Mega Millions ticket  day to 300 or 400 a day.”

The increased ticket sales have led an increase in business overall, Vadym said, because people who come into the store to purchase lottery tickets generally buy other items while they’re there.

At First Stop, located on Winchester Avenue at the foot of Ashland’s twin bridges, lottery ticket sales have gone up “quite a bit” as a result of the Mega Millions jackpot, store employee Dana Spears said.

Spears said she and her co-workers at First Stop had done their part by making sure customers were aware of the massive prize and asking them if they’ve purchased their chances yet.

One thing the jackpot hasn’t done is create a noticeable increase in the number of out-of-state customers because Mega Millions tickets also are sold in Ohio and West Virginia, Spears said.

The Mega Millions drawing will take place at 11 tonight. Tickets will be sold until 15 minutes before the winning numbers are drawn.

The winner — or winners, as the case may be — would receive $540 million if they chose to have the jackpot doled out in annual payments. The cash option would be $389 million, which is still one of the biggest jackpots ever.

The second-largest Mega Millions prize was for $390 million in 2007. The jackpot was split by two separate winners — a married couple in Woodbine, N.J., and a truck driver in Dalton, Ga. — who each picked the same combination of six winning numbers.

A similar situation happened last year with the third-largest Mega Millions jackpot of $380 million. That prize was split by two winners: a married couple in Ephrata, Wash., and a woman in Rathdrum, Idaho.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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