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Mega Millions jackpot means more money for education

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Convenience stores. Today they're places where some come to dream of the $355 million they could win in the Mega Millions lottery jackpot.

Steven Gibson has his own dreams.

"I'm planning to go into some kind of Christian Ministry, most likely the pastoral end of it," he said.

He's a junior at Columbia International University. School rules forbid him from gambling. But he doesn't mind the people who do it to benefit him.

"Do I ever expect to win? No," says Diane Campbell, who bought a ticket today. "But with this kind of money, I'll try."

A billboard looms over Washington Road in Augusta, where some buy tickets.

"I saw the billboard, and I told my boss, '300 something million dollars?' I got to get a ticket, because I'll give you enough money to pay your bills off, because I'll disappear," joked Campbell.

"I know some people would probably look down on it, but it's extremely helpful for me as a student, because otherwise I don't think I could afford to go to a school like I go to, because it's just very expensive," adds Gibson.

South Carolina's LIFE Scholarship gives him $5,000 dollars each year. Yep, that's money from the lottery.

"350 million? Come on," said Sam Toole, who's also hoping for a chance to win. "Everybody wants a shot."

Others have the same attitude. One Greg's Gas Plus station sold more than 75 Mega Millions tickets by two o'clock today.

In Georgia, $12 billion dollars from the lottery has funded the HOPE Scholarship for college students, Pre-K programs, and teacher training.

Across the river, it's college scholarships, community education, and K-12 programs. Schools and students in Aiken County, for example, have received $57 million in benefits since 2002.

The players may have their own Mega Millions dreams, but they're ok with handing them out to students like Steven.

"If it was going into a slot machine, it's going into somebody else's pocket that's gonna get richer while I get poorer," adds Campbell. "If I'm gonna give it away, I may as well give it away while it makes a difference."

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