Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Sales jumpin' for $54 million jackpot

Ohio's Super Lotto jackpot is biggest in U.S.

By Anya Rao
Enquirer contributor

        Tonight's $54 million record Super Lotto Plus jackpot is breathing life into Ohio's sagging lottery sales.

        The jackpot, which tops the previous high of $50 million set in 1990, is the largest current jackpot in the country.

[photo] A $54 million jackpot has more people, such as Ray Geiger (center), of Northern Kentucky, going to stores such as Skywalk Baseball Cards buy tickets for themselves and co-workers.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        Helen Thomas, owner of Skywalk Baseball Cards downtown, said Lotto sales have doubled at her store since Saturday's drawing, when a $44 million jackpot failed to produce a winner.

        Still, Ms. Thomas said sales pale in comparison to large jackpots in past years, mostly because of the popularity of multistate lotteries in Kentucky and Indiana that routinely exceed $100 million.

        “Based on the way sales have tapered off (in recent years),” she said, “this week has been good.”

        Ohio lottery sales have declined for four consecutive years, from a 1997 high of $2.3 billion. Mike Bycko, a spokesman for the Ohio Lottery Commission, attributes the slowdown to many factors, including the rise of multistate lotteries.

        “A $4 million jackpot just doesn't generate the amount of interest as a larger jackpot, so sales aren't as high,” Mr. Bycko said.

        But a $54 million jackpot does spark interest.

Top Ohio Super Lotto payouts
$50 million (August 1990)

    $45 million (July 1996)

    $36 million (November 1999)

    $35 million (August 1997)

    $32 million (June 2000)
Largest U.S. lottery payout
$363 million (May 2000): The Big Game multistate lotto, composed of ticket sales in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts and Virginia.

        Chuck Boiman, owner of Galbraith Food Mart in Groesbeck, said he has seen at least a 20 percent increase in Lotto sales the past few days.

        “I've noticed a lot of new faces coming in to buy tickets,” he said.

        Sam Hill, 22, of Evanston purchased his first Super Lotto ticket on Tuesday for a chance to win the millions.

        “I figure my chances are bad; but, hey, a few bucks won't break me,” said Mr. Hill while he was at Skywalk Baseball Cards.

        Lotto players pick six numbers from 1 to 49. Matching all six wins the jackpot. But the odds of winning are 1 in 13.98 million.

        Ticket-holders with fewer matching numbers can win prizes ranging from $5 to $10,000. All net proceeds from Ohio lottery games are used to fund public education.

        Mr. Bycko said when the jackpot goes up, it's not unusual to see people like Mr. Hill dish out money for tickets.

        Octavio Quinones, 33, purchased Lotto tickets and baseball cards at Ms. Thomas' store Tuesday.

        “I probably have a better chance of pulling a winner out of here,” he said, pointing to the packet of baseball cards.

        Mr. Quinones began playing the lottery when he moved to Cincinnati in June.

        “I'll keep playing until someone wins and then I'll start again when it gets back up to $30 million,” he said.
        To find out tonight's winning numbers, which are drawn at 7:29 p.m., go online at


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