MIAMI -- Rising gasoline prices have brought a new twist in the Florida lottery.
     Once a week for the next two months, the second-prize winner in the latest lottery promotion, Summer Cash, will win free gas for life. Some people think that is a better deal than first prize, a quarter of a million dollars.
     "If gas keeps going up and up -- and I expect it will -- then I'd rather have free gas for life," said Robert Acosta, who spends about $50 a week on fuel and recently bought a $5 Summer Cash ticket.
     Not that a winner's right to free gasoline is unlimited. Rather, each winner will be awarded 26 prepaid gas cards, each worth $100, every year until death.
     Were the 44-year-old Acosta to win, and live to be twice his current age, the total payout to him in free gasoline would be $114,400. That is far short of the first prize, particularly since virtually all the gas prize would be paid in future dollars.
     "Gas has become more precious than cash now," Bernard Feldman said.
     Feldman, a customer service supervisor at a Miami Beach supermarket that sells lottery tickets, said sales of Summer Cash tickets had steadily increased since they began June 30, a trend the state hopes will continue.
     "People seem to like it," said Jackie Barreiros, director of public affairs for the Florida Lottery. "Obviously, gas is something that everyone needs right now with prices being so high."
     Florida joins states including Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington that have started giving away gasoline as a lottery prize.


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