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Cashier Natasha Theberge rings up Mega Millions lottery tickets for a customer at Bunny's Superette in Manchester Wednesday evening in anticipation of Friday's drawing. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

'It's fun to dream, that's all'

MANCHESTER — Christine Piotrowski of Londonderry is so unaccustomed to buying lottery tickets that she twice tried to slide her $5 bill into a slot for manual-entry tickets at a lottery machine.

But with the lure of an estimated $640 million prize in tonight's Mega Millions drawing, she figured she'd give it a shot.

&#';Everybody deserves a good dream,&#'; she said. &#';It's fun to dream, that's all. I only buy (tickets) when the jackpot is really high.&#';

According to the state Lottery Commission, the prize is the largest lottery jackpot in history, as is its nearly $400 million one-time cash payment option.

Piotrowski hesitated when asked what she'd do with the money, before answering that she'd take a lot of trips and give a bunch of money to her children.

&#';I'd just have a lot of fun,&#'; she said.

She's facing long odds. New Hampshire has never had a jackpot winner in Mega Millions. It's relatively new in the Granite State, debuting in January 2010. New Hampshire has been part of the other major multi-state lottery, Powerball, since 1995.

Last Friday, however, two state residents hit five of the six numbers, earning $250,000 each.

New Hampshire Lottery spokesman Maura McCann said Mega Millions customers were spending about $50,000 an hour on tickets Thursday.

&#';We're seeing spikes in sales,&#'; she said.

The top-seller Friday was the Hannaford Supermarket on John E. Devine Drive in Manchester, where Piotrowski got her five entries. Josh Regan, a grocery associate serving as acting night manager Thursday night, said the store isn't typically a lottery hot spot.

&#';It's been pretty crazy today,&#'; he said, standing behind a line of about 10 people waiting to buy lottery tickets.

In Concord, West Street Market manager Sandy Patel said the store's sales have been dominated by lottery tickets.

&#';We are doing well with the Mega Millions tickets,&#'; she said.

Sales close at 9:50 p.m. tonight; WBIN-TV will carry the drawing live.

Sales locations were provided extra ticket paper, and technicians are on call until the drawing, McCann said.

&#';We'll be ready to respond in case anything comes up,&#'; she said.

Because both New Hampshire and Massachusetts sell Mega Millions tickets, there isn't the cross-border frenzy that used to take place when the states sold separate, multi-state games, McCann said.

Jim, a volunteer with Gamblers Anonymous, said the organization takes no position regarding lotteries.

However, he said his opinion as a recovering gambling addict is that he isn't against the lottery, but that it could be a problem for compulsive gamblers.

Jim likened the sale of a $1 lottery ticket to a gambling addict to the first drink served to a recovering alcoholic.

&#';I know that most people can gamble in safety. They'll spend their dollar and move on with their lives,&#'; he said. &#';Unfortunately, for compulsive gamblers, (the lottery) can be very dangerous.&#';

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