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Lotto mania: winners in California; buyers in Illinois

A California couple who will share in North America's third largest lottery prize of $68.5-million said Thursday that they would take an extended fishing trip and buy land for a church. Meanwhile, Lotto mania rollicked along at a 7,500-ticket-per-minute pace in Illinois, where officials claim a Saturday jackpot could reach $50-million.

The California couple, Lydia and David Neufeld of Simi Valley, were among three ticket holders to claim shares of the record state jackpot.

The winners emerged after a four-day spell of bristling Lotto ticket sales, which hit a pace of 1,850 per second at one point. The hopeful had clogged convenience stores to buy scores of tickets at a time.

California's $68.5-million jackpot ranked third in the nation, trailing April 1989 lottery prizes of $115-million in Pennsylvania and $69.9-million in Illinois.

In addition to the Neufelds, who shared a ticket worth $17.1-million, two winners stepped forward Thursday _ Michael Yang of the Los Angeles suburb of Valencia and Joan Young of Laguna Niguel in Orange County. The fourth winner had yet to report to lottery officials, but has 180 days to claim the prize.

"We're going to leave the cold climate of Simi Valley," Neufeld, a 57-year-old plasterer, joked at a celebration. "We're going to the island of Kauai and from there we're going anywhere they have fish."

Mrs. Neufeld, 41, who works at a collection agency, said she would spend some of her money to buy land for a Pentecostal pastor whose congregation moves from hall to hall for lack of a permanent church in her Southern California community of Simi Valley.

Each ticket will pay $685,600 annually for 20 years after taxes, said lottery spokeswoman Joanne McNabb.

The odds were one in 14-million that anyone would choose all the numbers: 44, 27, 34, 12, 21, 41. The six numbers were picked from a field of 49.