Lottery Fever Once Again Grips Tri-State Area, Nation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — If it seems that giant lottery jackpots have people lining up at convenience stores more frequently, just wait.

Most of the attention has been on Powerball since its rules were changed a couple years ago to boost payoffs. On Wednesday, Powerball’s $400 million jackpot will be the nation’s fifth-largest ever.

Organizers of the country’s other big lottery, Mega Millions, are now also planning changes to increase jackpots.

Mega Millions, which is sold in 43 states, plans to boost the initial jackpot to $15 million. It also will lessen the odds of winning jackpots and make other changes that will result in faster growing prizes to grab the public’s attention.

Iowa Lottery chief executive officer Terry Rich says the purpose is to “turn up the excitement level” and increase sales.

A group of employees from the Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Department had one of three winning tickets in August’s $448.4 million Powerball jackpot.

The ticket, which contained the winning numbers 05, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32, was sold at the Little Egg Harbor Acme Market. The two others were sold at a Super Stop & Shop in South Brunswick, and at a store in Minnesota.

After taking the lump-sum payment of $86 million, dividing the winnings and having taxes deducted, each employee will receive about $3.8 million, lottery officials said.

Mario Scarnici of South Brunswick held one of the three winning tickets sold for the Aug. 7 drawing. Lottery officials said he chose the cash option and will get about $62 million after taxes.

Some of the Ocean County winners suffered losses during superstorm Sandy.

The workers also helped keep the county’s fleet running during the storm.

Powerball is played in 43 states including New York, New jersey and Connecticut.

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