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March 29. 2012 11:13PM

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


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)

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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