Lotto Frenzy Raises Pot to $60.8 Million

Times Staff Writer

Days of frenzied ticket-buying that saw the California Lottery jackpot soar to a world record $60.8 million ended just before 8 p.m. Saturday, when lottery officials drew the six winning numbers--5, 20, 26, 28, 32, 39 and a bonus number of 3.

It was not known whether any of the ticket buyers who flooded Lotto 6/49 retailers throughout the state had made the lucky guess, but lottery officials said the probabilities were strong that at least one of them--and perhaps several--had become instant millionaires.

In the days and hours before ticket sales ended, millions of Californians decided to buck odds that ran as much as 14 million to 1 against them. Lottery spokesman Bob Taylor said Saturday’s $39.5 million in sales eclipsed the previous record of $33.3 million, set Jan. 4.

“We have never seen anything like it,” said Taylor. “At one time, 86,243 tickets were sold in a minute and 4 million in an hour.”


In all, $106 million in tickets were sold last week, also an all- time high.

Pay-outs of jackpots of more than $1 million are made over 20 years in equal annual installments. That means that before taxes, the annual payments for Saturday night’s bonanza will top $3 million a year.

Telora Knox, 64, who joined the crush of players buying Lotto tickets at a Chinatown liquor store Saturday morning, was typically optimistic: “Of course I’m going to win. I have to. I’ve got to buy my husband a new car. I wrecked the old one.”

A lot of others seemed to share Knox’s optimism.


Heading for a Letdown?

“They kind of get a faraway look, like they’re pre-planning,” Lester Meek said of the last-minute players flocking into his 7-Eleven store in Redding. “I hope they’re not letting themselves in for a big letdown.”

“Someone has got to win,” Lottery spokesman Taylor said before the drawing. With 106 million tickets sold, the probability was that 95% of the six-number combinations possible in the game had been purchased.

There were some people, of course, who bought just one ticket. Most who played bought several. And there were others--thousands of others--who improved their chances by joining pools in which there were hundreds of potential winning tickets.

Pools mean splitting the proceeds, but Billie Dixon, 36, a clerk at a busy 7-Eleven store in Inglewood, said she “wouldn’t mind sharing.”

“I just want some of it, not all of it,” she said with a grin. “But I want that part. I need it. . . . It’s time for me to take a rest, lie back and enjoy. After I win, I’m going to take a trip to the Caribbean. Then I’ll buy a house for my mother, and one for me, too. And I’ll buy myself a Jaguar. . . .

“I think $20 million would cover it,” she said.

On the other hand, Dolores Smith, 57, one of the customers at George’s Liquors at Ord Street and Broadway in Chinatown, preferred to think in terms of winning it all.


“Money is exciting,” she said. “I can use that $60 million. I drive an old clunker.”

Saturday night’s jackpot reached such gargantuan proportions because nobody won the four previous jackpots, and each was added to the total.

New World Record

According to Taylor, the new top prize eclipses the previous world record of $55.16 million last August in Florida, and the old California record of $51.4 million, split by Travis Air Force Base mechanic Shelby Carroll, 53, and Sacramento grocery bagger Randy Pennington, 26, last June. In August, Capistrano Beach community college sophomore Christene E. Lentz, 20, and Riverside truck driver Robert K. Barnett split a Lotto jackpot of $39 million.

The moment of truth for the new record jackpot came when a mechanical juggling device in Sacramento spit out six of its 49 Ping-Pong balls, each one marked with a number.

The identity of the winner--or winners--won’t be known until the winning tickets are presented to Lottery officials.

All those who picked five numbers plus the bonus number will divide among themselves a prize pool of $7.597 million; five of six will share $3.914 million; four of six will share $3.558 million. Three of six pays $5 per winner.



OCT. 29

Saturday’s Winning Numbers:


Lotto Jackpot

$60.8 million

Bonus Number3

Recorded Information

976-4275 (English)

976-5275 (Spanish / Chinese)