Mega Millions fever growing as jackpot swells to $330 million

As the cash prize for the Georgia Lottery's Mega Millions game continues to grow, so too, does enthusiasm across the midstate for tonight's drawing.

And with the estimated jackpot increasing from $325 million to $330 million Thursday, it's easy to understand why, especially since the prize could continue to increase before the drawing.

"(Today), everybody's going to come in and play," said John Suh, who owns the Marathon gas station at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Walnut Street. "Some people may spend $5 or $10, but we have some people who buy 200 or 300 tickets."

Although $330 million is an impressive total, it would be just the fourth-largest jackpot in state history. The all-time record is $390 million in the Mega Millions game, which was split between individuals in Dalton and New Jersey on March 6.

Frank Steger walked out of the Conoco gas station at Riverside Drive on Thursday with one of the Georgia Lottery's scratch-off game tickets. He said he was planning on buying Mega Millions tickets later.

"I play almost every day," he said. "That's my one vice."

Steger said he plays often enough that tonight's big total wasn't a factor in his decision to buy a ticket. He said he doesn't use special numbers and sticks with quik picks.

Cathy Bryan, a courier who stopped at the Spectrum gas station on Riverside Drive on her way to Atlanta on Thursday, said she only plays once in a while. "I don't play very often, probably less than six times a year," she said.

"Sometimes, I just feel like buying a ticket, and this felt like a good day to get one."

Bryan, who also only plays quik picks, said she isn't sure what she would do if she won the big prize.

"Go fishing, I guess," she said with a chuckle. "There's a lot of things I'd like to do. It would be nice to have enough money where I could be in a position to effect change."

Suh could also benefit from the lottery if he sells the winning ticket. Georgia Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick said the store that sells a winning Mega Millions ticket gets a $25,000 prize. If more than one store sells a winning ticket, the stores split the prize.

"I hope one of my customers wins," said Suh, who had one of his customers last week win $10,000 from a scratch-off ticket. "Then the customer will be very happy."