The stuff dreams are made of

By MARCELLA S. KREITER  |  April 17, 2002 at 12:43 AM
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CHICAGO, April 17 (UPI) -- Film noir detective Sam Spade, gangster Joel Cairo and the Fat Man were pikers compared with the legions of people lining up in seven states for the chance to win the $325 million Big Game lottery jackpot.

The Maltese Falcon may have been worth a few millions but that hardly compares with the top payoff for Tuesday night's drawing.

The winning numbers: 7, 10, 25, 26, 27, and money ball, 23.

Granted a person's chance of getting hit by lightning is much greater than winning the mega-bucks -- one in 9,100 compared with one in 76 million -- but that didn't stop players from plunking down $1 for a chance to match five out of 50 numbers and then one out of 36 for the grand prize.

Illinois Lottery spokeswoman Ann Plohr Hayhill said most players spend $1 to $5 on tickets, with the average buy $3.

"The odds are very long and most people know that," Hayhill said. "It's not really going to increase your changes very much" to buy more tickets.

"I don't even pay any attention to the odds," Jackie Blackmon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I bought three tickets Friday and I didn't win. I always think I've got a chance."

"What I'd do with the money? I don't even think about it. I'll just buy one just in case," Danny Noel told Gloucester (N.J.) Express-Times.

The jackpot is the second largest in North American history. The biggest was a $363 million Big Game prize won by two tickets in May 2000.

"I bought 40 games," Ken May of Bangor, N.J., admitted to the Express-Times. "I don't play a whole lot. This is probably the third time this year."

The owner and employees of Itel Wireless pooled their funds to buy $1,000 in tickets.

"It's going to take them an hour just to print them," Itel owner Cassiano Oliveira told the Express-Times.

Bill Williams of Newport News, Va., told the Hampton Roads Daily Press, he plans to take a day off if he wins. He also said he'd fly to Florida and buy a Lambourghini.

"The luck isn't there," he said. "But it's worth a try."

Convenience store cashier Mary Chantland said she'd quit her job while shipyard worker Mary Silver told the Daily Press: I'll leave that place behind and take a trip around the world. I'd give my kids $1 million apiece."

Dr. Gene Smith, an orthopedic surgeon at Yokusuka Naval Hospital said they've heard about the jackpot in Tokyo.

"It's news there," he told the New York Post. "When I called back home (Sunday) night, they knew what the numbers were from Friday."

The jackpot is the result of 18 consecutive rollovers without a winner. A single winner could collect the prize over 26 years to take a one-time lump-sun of $174 million -- less a third for taxes, of course.

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