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Lottery raffle ticket holders hope for luck

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Lottery raffle ticket holders hope for luck
The Millionaire Raffle was limited to 500,000 sales but could produce four millionaires. (Pantagraph, David Proeber)

BLOOMINGTON - More people than usual probably will be hoping for the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day this year.

That's the day the Illinois Lottery will draw winners of its St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle.

If you don't already have a ticket, you're out of luck. They've been sold out since March 1.

It's not like traditional lottery games. Players didn't pick numbers. Only 500,000 tickets were sold and each cost $20.

The game will make not one but four winners millionaires.

A total of $5 million will be handed out through the Millionaire Raffle. There will be four prizes of $1 million each, five prizes of $100,000 each, and 500 prizes of $1,000 each.

Odds are 1 in 982 that anyone who purchased a ticket will win something. There's a one in 125,000 chance of winning $1 million.

"That's the best odds for getting a million," said Lottery spokesman Courtney Hill.

Apparently a lot of people must have figured that out. The 500,000 tickets were sold in 25 days. Ticket sales began Feb. 5 and were sold out on March 1.

"We were very, very happy with the results," said Hill.

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Mike Kram, owner of Last Chance Newsstand in downtown Bloomington, estimates about 200 tickets were purchased at his business.

"Sales were slow at first, then all of a sudden went like gangbusters," he said. "Towards the end, it was real popular."

Kram said businesses selling a winning ticket get 1 percent of any winnings exceeding $1,000.

Sales weren't quite as brisk at Circle K, 1200 W. Market St. Store employee Dawn Spaulding said she thought it was because of the higher ticket cost.

Hill said a lot of players like the higher priced games because the odds are better.

It's the first time Illinois Lottery has tried a raffle, Hill said.

"They have raffles in other states," he said. "In Florida, they're extremely successful. They are so extremely popular we thought they would be good here. It's new and different."

While it hasn't been decided, Hill said there's a chance Illinois might offer the raffle-style game again.

Like other lottery games, proceeds from the St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle will go to the state Common School Fund for primary and secondary public schools. Hill said the raffle will add about $4 million to that fund. Since it started in 1974, the lottery has provided $13.5 billion to that fund, according to lottery officials.

See who wins

- Illinois Lottery officials will draw winners for the St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle at 10 p.m. Saturday.

- The drawing will take place live on WGN-TV, Chicago's Channel 9

- Winning ticket numbers will be posted on the Illinois Lottery Web site at

- Check for results.

SOURCE: Illinois Lottery

Compiled by Mary Ann Ford


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