Lotto up to $70 million |

Lotto up to $70 million

Christina Proctor

Why spend $1 to win a measly $3 million, when you can wait until the California Lottery reaches $70 million? Now’s your chance!

Hopeful SuperLotto devotees were plunking down their dollars early this week as the big prize closed in on $70 million.

It was the dream of taking home $70 million, the second largest SuperLotto prize in California lottery history, that enticed them to buy tickets before today’s drawing.

Tickets may be purchased until 7:45 p.m.

It normally takes at least a $30 million jackpot to bring out people who are not regular lottery players, said California lottery spokeswoman Norma Minas.

About a $3 million worth of tickets were sold between 6 and 7 p.m. before the drawing Saturday night, when the jackpot was $40 million, but no one was a winner. Saturday’s winning numbers were 12, 15, 37, 41 and 47.

Officials say the jackpot has rolled six times.

Alan Lowe of Orange County bought one of his five tickets at Ski Run Liquor No. 5.

“I’m buying one ticket at five different locations in Tahoe,” Lowe said, who explained he was on the South Shore to do some skiing with his children. “When it gets up over $7 million I usually play. I play birthdays and fortune cookie numbers. When I didn’t win the Saturday drawing I thought I’d play again. Someday it’ll pay off,” he said laughing.

A manager of a South Shore 7-Eleven store, who didn’t wish to be named, said her ticket sales have doubled since Saturday’s drawing.

“Nobody wants $3 million,” she said. “They want $70 million.”

When asked if she had purchased a ticket she promptly replied, “Yes, of course I did.”

Ralph Rocco, a former 30-year Tahoe resident, made the trip with his wife, Marie, from Carson City to take their shot at becoming millionaires.

“We usually only play maybe once a month, but more so now,” Marie said, as she bustled off to play numbers for her daughter, son, and two granddaughters.

Ralph, who formerly worked at Tahoe Tom’s, said he saw people come in and drop $400 to $500 on one lottery drawing.

“And they’d lose $400 to $500,” Ralph said. “It only takes one ticket to win. If you’re going to win you’re going to win with one as much as with 1,000.”

The largest jackpot in California of $118 million was won on April 17, 1991, and split between 10 winning tickets and 54 winners. Augustine Chiarenza of Lompoc made lottery history in 1994 when he won $51.6 million, making him the highest individual jackpot winners.

A single winner of the $70 million jackpot would receive 26 graduated annual payments, starting at about $1.75 million and ending at about $3.6 million.

Minas said at least 34 percent of lottery sales are earmarked for education. From this jackpot alone officials are estimating $40 million for public education.

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