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October 25, 2018

Mega Millions mania spurs mega sales in Maine

Courtesy / Mega Millions
Courtesy / Mega Millions
Although no one in Maine won the $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot — the single winning lottery ticket was sold in South Carolina — the lure of becoming an instant billionaire spurred Maine Lottery sales in a big way prior to Tuesday’s drawing.

While no one in Maine won the $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot — the single winning lottery ticket was sold in South Carolina — the lure of becoming an instant billionaire spurred Maine Lottery sales in a big way prior to Tuesday's drawing.

Maine State Lottery reported that Maine lottery players spent $1.9 million ahead of the Mega Millions drawing — including $1.5 million for one day, Oct. 23, when the winning ticket numbers of 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5 matched a ticket sold at a KC Mart in Simpsonville, S.C. The odds of winning the $1.6 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot were 1 in 302.5 million.

There were lots of small winners, however, in Maine, according to a news release from Maine State Lottery. Prizes ranging from $2 to $1,500 were reported for 46,366 Maine winners, and Maine Lottery reminds people to check their tickets to see if they won one of those smaller prizes.

Top-selling Mega Millions' retailers on Tuesday were:

  • Broadway Variety in South Portland.
  • Circle K in Falmouth.
  • Cumberland Farms on Washington Avenue in Portland.
  • Hannaford in Scarborough.
  • Shaw's in Falmouth.

The Associated Press reported that Tuesday's near-record Mega Millions jackpot reflects the strategy of lottery officials to change the odds in recent years to lessen the chance of winning a mega-jackpot.

Powerball was the first to try the theory in October 2015, when it changed the potential number combinations, which changed the odds of winning the jackpot from one in 175 million to one in 292.2 million, the AP reported. Officials at that time also increased the chances of winning small prizes. Mega Millions made similar moves in October 2017, resulting in the odds worsening from one in 259 million to one in 302.5 million.

The theory, which Tuesday's drawing pretty much supports, is that bigger jackpots would draw more attention, leading more players to plop down $2 for a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket. And the more tickets that are sold, the more the jackpots grow, leading to more players and, ultimately, more money flowing into each state's General Fund.

According to Maine State Lottery's website, each year in addition to millions of dollars that are returned to players in prize money, local Maine businesses receive millions of dollars in commissions and bonuses for selling lottery products and the programs and services supported by the state's General Fund receive over $50 million.

As of Thursday morning, the identity of the winner in South Carolina had not been disclosed.

South Carolina Education Lottery officials know when and where the winning ticket was bought, according to the AP, but until someone turns the ticket in, they won't know who bought it.

And the public may never find out. That's because South Carolina allows lottery winners to remain anonymous after conducting a thorough investigation to confirm their identity, lottery Chief Operating Officer Tony Cooper said.

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