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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"Millions of hopeful players check their numbers"
 real 28k

ABC's news reporter Cathy Shafran in Utica
The excitement started building at 2:30 in the morning
 real 28k

Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Two share jumbo jackpot
Queque at a petrol station
There were queues as millions scrambled for tickets
At least two people have won a share in a $350m jackpot - the richest lottery prize in US history.

Gamblers in at least two US states - Michigan and Illinois - purchased winning tickets, officials said on Wednesday.

The Michigan Lottery office said a ticket matching the numbers drawn on Tuesday had been purchased in a Mr K's Party Shoppe in the Utica suburb of Michigan.


It's the largest jackpot ever and people are ecstatic.

Petrol station owner Ted Amico

The winners have yet to come forward to claim their prize, but the shop owner George Kassab and four sons were so thrilled that they opened up at 6am, three hours early.

"I'm very excited - I'm happy for the winner," Mr Kassab said. "I was hoping it was me. I bought a few tickets."

High odds

The prize swelled to $350m as millions of people scrambled for tickets for one of the world's biggest-ever draws.

queue
People bet until 15 minutes before the draw

The odds of winning were put at 76 million to one, which is said to be about as likely as being hit by lightning twice on the same day.

The numbers were 1, 2, 12, 33, 37, Big Ball 4.

The size of the jackpot has been growing since March, as each week ticket buyers failed to pick the winning six numbers.

Dreams

The Big Game is played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia, and the BBC correspondent says people travelled thousands of kilometres to bet in one of those states.

"Everybody's excited," said Massachusetts petrol station owner Ted Amico before the draw.

"It's the largest jackpot ever and people are ecstatic."

George Kassab in his store
George Kassab: "I was hoping it was me"

The manager of a grocery store in Arlington, Virginia, said, "We have had many dreamers this weekend and some have bought tickets for more than $100."

So many people tried to access the lottery's website in Virginia that the server crashed.

Some people in Georgia and Massachusetts almost missed the chance to pick their numbers because damaged phone lines shut down hundreds of lottery terminals.

About 370 retailers in Georgia were closed until Tuesday afternoon due to the problem.

It was worse in southeastern Massachusetts, where the accidental cutting of a fibre optic cable disabled between 750 and 1,000 lottery agents.

Alfred Pawlowski, general manager at a shop in Massachusetts, said he lost thousands of customers after his terminals went down.

"People have been turned away with envelopes full of money," he said.

The game

Cars
People travelled thousands of kilometres to place their bets
While the draw is held in Atlanta, results of the Big Game are handled by the participating state lotteries in the seven states.

The previous US jackpot record was a $295m prize given away in 1998.

The world lottery record prize is $1.2bn, set last December by Spain's El Gordo (the Fat One).

But that game spreads itself thin, with prizes awarded to thousands of people.

Proceeds from the Big Game go to fund scholarships, kindergartens for four-year-olds across Georgia, and equipment for schools and colleges.

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