By John Toole
---- — Numbers are on everyone’s mind today.
They include the big number that is the $400 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot. That’s the second largest jackpot in the history of the game, the fifth largest ever in North America.
There is the combination of numbers that will claim the jackpot.
Then there is that number 13 — this is Friday the 13th — and whether it will bring the proverbial bad luck to players, or potentially make a jackpot winner.
Matt Shepherd of Sandown is hoping 13 is magic tonight.
“I did actually buy the winning ticket,” Shepherd said yesterday. “The clerk told me this was the 13th ticket sold and the drawing is Friday the 13th. That is pretty cool.”
This is the season of giving and Shepherd said he would certainly give some of the $400 million to charity.
But then there is a special fantasy for him, too.
“I would take my whole family to our own little island,” he said.
Brian Cabral of Salem had something tropical in mind, too.
“I would take a nice warm vacation, away from this,” Cabral said.
He knew the jackpot amount without prompting.
“Four million something,” Cabral said.
He initially said he would be unable to get a ticket because he only had a charge card, but returned moments later after a consultation with the office.
“They said use the boss’s money,” as he walked into Klemm’s Mobil in Windham to get $20 worth of chances.
Customers at Klemm’s bought tickets in bunches.
“We’ve been selling a lot,” Chris Klemm said from behind the counter.
Some players bought a couple of the $1 tickets. Others five or 10.
“Fifty to 100 if they’ve got a work pool,” he said.
That’s happening all over. The competition includes players in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.
“At this point, they are all jumping in,” New Hampshire Lottery spokeswoman Maura McCann said.
It didn’t matter where you went yesterday in Southern New Hampshire or the Merrimack Valley.
“We are selling tons of them,” Marc Visconti of Skelley’s State Line Mobil in Haverhill said.
Customers were buying tickets individually or by the batch, he said.
The odds of winning are long, 1 in 258 million.
Jerry Neal, an innkeeper on Cape Cod, was passing through Windham and purchased a couple of tickets at Klemm’s Mobil.
“I’ll buy you a drink,” Neal said when asked what he would do if he wins.
Then, seriously, “I’d probably retire.”
Bill Zannoni of Dracut said he wouldn’t change his lifestyle.
“I’d still keep working, but I’d do a lot of philanthropy and charity,” he said. “I would take care of all my family members.”
Gordon McIntosh of Lynn bought $5 worth of tickets, as he does whenever the jackpots grow to $300 million or more.
“I would spread it around a bit if I win,” he said. “I would do a little traveling.”
Hannah Hinckley of Manchester also bought $5 in tickets.
“The first thing I would do is pay off my entire family’s mortgages and get us moved south to the warmth,” she said. “I would pay some bills and donate.”
Michael Georgoulis of Pelham was hoping Friday the 13th would be luckier than when he played Tuesday, Dec. 9.
“I checked Tuesday, no luck,” he said.
In fact, no one has hit the jackpot in 20 consecutive drawings.
Georgoulis is forming a plan for the jackpot that includes helping friends.
“I would probably buy a big house and a couple of cars,” Georgoulis said.
Katrina Supino of Windham came into the game for the first time after seeing the jackpot reach $400 million.
“I just randomly picked,” Supino said of her numbers. “I left it up to fate.”
She also has some ideas about what she would do with that jackpot, including retirement.
“I would buy a home in Aruba, pay off my daughter’s college loan, travel and take care of all my friends,” Supino said.
Robert Gomes of Halifax was taking a chance. He said he usually plays when the jackpots are big.
But Gomes isn’t sure what he would do if he wins.
“No clue,” he said.
Karen Hayward of Derry admitted the $400 million jackpot number is interesting, but not enough to get her to play.
“I’m afraid if I start, I’ll keep playing,” Hayward said.
Shannon Sammataro of Windham didn’t have such worries. She said her husband will get them the winning ticket and knows just what they will do if they win.
“Have a nice Christmas,” she said.
A lot of people share that hope. The drawing is at 11 tonight. The winner must match all five numbers and the Mega Ball
Staff writer Doug Ireland contributed to this story.