$130 million jackpot fuels lottery sales, dreams

By Greg Gelpi

The thermometer may be dropping outside, but inside gas stations and convenience stores lottery fever is picking up as the Mega Millions jackpot reaches $130 million.

Sports cars, homes and definitely an early retirement: The wish list for millionaire hopefuls.

"I would probably tell my company I'd be back Tuesday, but I wouldn't tell them which Tuesday," Jack Foster, 44, of Riverdale said, reflecting on the possibility of winning the jackpot.

Foster, the owner of JADES Lawn Care Service, said he buys a couple of lottery tickets periodically and has won $500 a couple of times on various Georgia Lottery games.

He's been "blessed" that each winning ticket coincided with the need for new equipment at his company, he said.

There isn't a secret strategy or any particular system of luck, Foster said, but he always buys two at a time.

"If the first doesn't win, then hopefully the second will," he said.

Deron Kitchen, 36, a government employee from Atlanta, would opt for an early retirement as well.

"It's just a matter of fate whether you win or you lose," Kitchen said, buying a lottery ticket at Shell Food Mart on Noah's Ark Road in Jonesboro Monday.

The gas station and food mart has experienced an increase in lottery traffic since Friday, Kaye Watson of the Shell station said, anticipating the numbers to pick up today as the drawing nears.

The drawing will be at 11 tonight, as white balls numbered one to 52 tumble about and, combined with a Mega Ball, could award a winner the $130 million prize.

When asked what she would buy if she won, Watson, who bought a couple of tickets herself, replied "everything." Included in that, she would buy a small house somewhere in the country, as well a house for each of her children.

And the first thing she would do if she won? "Probably faint," she said.

According to the Georgia Lottery, the odds of matching all five numbers and the Mega Ball are one in 135,145,920. The odds of winning anything on the lottery are one in 43.

The Mega Millions jackpot was at $111 million Friday, but no one had all six winning numbers. One person matched all five balls, winning $175,000.