$15 MILLION DRAWS A CROWD Tonight's Lotto jackpot matches second-largest.


Maybe you could buy yourself an island where the sun always shines. Lots of people are thinking of what they would do with $15 million. That's what one winner of tonight's Lotto jackpot would take home -- before taxes, payable over 20 years.

And the jackpot could swell to a record amount if no one matches the six numbers drawn tonight, lottery officials say.

"There's a great possibility of it exceeding that record of $21 million," said Carroll H. Hynson Jr., spokesman for the Maryland Lottery Agency.

The biggest single Lotto winner in state history was David K. Moreland, a Lothian resident whose subscription ticket won him $21,077,616 last August -- more than $1 million a year before taxes.

The before-tax take for a single winner tonight would be $750,000 a year for 20 years. That would match the second-largest Lotto prize ever in Maryland, Mr. Hynson said.

The prize was $15 million on May 14, 1988, and four ticket-holders shared it.

Tonight's jackpot also is the biggest in the mid-Atlantic region this week, Mr. Hynson said. "We're double anything in the region," he said.

As of early today, the 2,000-plus lottery outlets in Maryland had sold about $1.5 million in Lotto tickets since the $15 million prize was announced Sunday. That's about $600,000 ahead of sales late last week, in advance of Saturday's $12 million jackpot.

When the jackpots are large, many sales come in the 11th hour, Mr. Hynson said.

In the hour before the drawing for last August's big jackpot, outlets were selling more than 3,000 Lotto tickets a minute.

Ticket sales stop at 7:50 p.m. before each 7:58 p.m. Lotto drawing.

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