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March 31. 2012 12:10AM

Winning jackpot fuels big dreams

HOOKSETT — By now, somebody's suddenly really, really, really rich.

With Mega Millions officials saying that nearly every possible number combination had been selected before Friday night's drawing, it's likely that somebody or a group of somebodies came away with the record $640 million jackpot.

But what would you do with the kind of money that instantly changes your world?

“I'd buy myself a house in the trees and happily retire,” said Haylee Thibeau of Concord, who at 19 is hardly near retirement age.

Millions of people will continue to live life today without the vast wealth brought on by matching the right combination of numbers printed on a ticket to those on randomly selected pingpong balls. By the way, those numbers were 2-4-23-38-46, MB 23, MP 3. Go ahead, check your ticket if you haven't yet already.

But for several people lining up across the state and the nation to purchase tickets, Friday's lead up to the drawing was a chance to play “what if.”

The record-setting jackpot was originally estimated at $500 million but swelled rapidly Friday to $640 million. The option of a one-time cash payment would pay the winner $462 million, minus taxes.

“I'd help out as many people as I could,” said James Kirkpatrick, who purchased a couple tickets at the New Hampshire State Liquor store in Hooksett Friday afternoon. “There's no need for anybody to have that kind of money for themselves.”

Brendan and Jennifer Butler of Bethel, Vt., said they never play lottery games, but figured it wouldn't hurt to buy several tickets for this drawing.

“We heard about it on the radio,” Brendan Butler said. “This is the first time we've ever played.”

Jim McNeil, who is from Burlington, Vt., but was traveling through New Hampshire Friday, picked up a ticket as well. He said his first purchase would be a new car.

“As someone who has never had a new car, I would at least have a functioning, operating car,” he said. “Then I'd have one heck of a party for (friends and family). Then I would set up some kind of foundation.”

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 multistate lottery, Powerball, since 1995.

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

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