LIers look to win $242M Mega Millions prize

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(Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Michele Gambella is a lucky woman.

She's won tickets to see Bon Jovi three times, but when she walked into a local stationery store in her hometown of Rocky Point on Friday, she had a much higher goal.

Gambella, 41, was elected by her office mates to play the Mega Millions' $242-million jackpot.

She chose Sonny's Cards & Things - the same store that sold Mary and Richard Morrison a ticket in 2009 that turned out to be worth $165 million - to buy what she hopes is a life-changing slip of paper.

"The odds never deter me," she said. "Not with my lucky streak."

Gambella and her colleagues at a local Allstate office have been playing for years and she's always the one to pick up the tickets.

Like many who dream of winning big, she already has plans for the money.

"I'd repay my parents for all they've done for me and I'd go on vacation," she said.

Kevin Campbell, 54, of Rocky Point, said he'd pay off his daughters' college educations, adding that he doesn't need to win the largest pot.

"I just keep trying," he said. "I don't care if I don't win the big lottery. Anything will help."

Joe D'Amato, 39, of Rocky Point, said he doesn't play often, but Friday's prize was just too big to stay away.

"I'm only here when the jackpot is this high because for some reason I always think I'm going to win," he said.

Barbara Sclafani, 67 of Sound Beach, buys lottery tickets twice a week. She said the card store was unusually crowded Friday afternoon.

"When you see lines like this you know there's a big jackpot that someone's about to win," she said.

Lottery officials picked the winning numbers Friday night but won't know who holds the golden ticket until their office opens Monday.

The New Year's Eve jackpot is the second largest for 2010; a California couple won $266 million in May.

The largest jackpot was a $390-million Mega Millions prize in March 2007.

The winner of Friday's drawing could take home a lump-sum payment of $154 million. This marks the 33rd time that the multistate Mega Millions hit $200 million or more.

Winners have a year to claim their prize.

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