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How one local store is readying for a potential Mega Millions rush
FCN Lottery 1 101918
The Georgia Lottery Mega Millions jackpot had reached a record $900 million by Thursday morning, prompting Sam Budhani, owner of Leon’s Food Mart on Matt Highway, to start a promotion with free gifts for customers who purchase $100 in lottery tickets. - photo by Brian Paglia

The Georgia Lottery Mega Millions jackpot has reached the largest in state history, according to a press release, and Sam Budhani is pulling out all the stops to entice people to buy tickets.

The owner of Leon’s Food Mart, at the intersection of Matt Highway and Bannister Road, is offering free gifts like T-shirts, USB fans and some of the store’s reputable ice cream for patrons who purchase $100 of lottery tickets before the drawing Friday, Oct. 19, at 11 p.m.

Budhani said he’s already seen an increase of lottery ticket purchases this week, and he expects such a rush of customers that Budhani has recruited volunteers to deal with traffic.

“It’s been crazy here,” Budhani said.

Some of the rush, Budhani said, could stem from the store’s history. In March 2015, a Dawsonville man won $7 million on a scratch-off ticket he bought at Leon’s. The odds of winning were 1 in 2.4 million, and it brought Budhani and Leon’s a brief wave of attention from media outlets.

Budhani feels the experience gave Leon’s a reputation as a lucky location to buy a lottery ticket.

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, go to Leon’s to buy your lottery ticket,’” Budhani said.

There’s a lot to play for.

The Mega Millions jackpot is $970 million, the largest in the game’s history and second largest in U.S. history, according to a press release from the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Powerball jackpot has grown to $430 million, combining with Mega Millions for more than $1.4 billion in jackpot prizes.

The cash option for the Mega Millions and Powerball are $548 million and $248 million, respectively.

Tickets for both jackpots are $2.