Beijinger becomes instant billionaire

By Wei Na Source:Global Times Published: 2012-6-13 23:50:06

A lottery buyer checks the previous prize numbers yesterday at the Sanlitun lottery store which sold China’s biggest prize-winning ticket. Photo: Guo Yingguang/GT
A lottery buyer checks the previous prize numbers yesterday at the Sanlitun lottery store which sold China’s biggest prize-winning ticket. Photo: Guo Yingguang/GT

The biggest single lottery prize in China has been won by a person who bought the winning ticket in Sanlitun, Chaoyang district.

It is not known if the prize, 570 million yuan ($90 million), has been claimed yet; however the ticket vendor has been inundated by both buyers, hoping for a repeat of the winner's good fortune, and media, hoping to unmask China's newest billionaire. 

Staff at the ticket store, in Sanlitun Nanlu, is waiting for a banner to be presented by Beijing Welfare Lottery Center (BWLC) to encourage lottery buyers to keep coming. The banner would say: "The lucky retailer that came up with the right number to win the biggest lottery prize."

"We've had almost twice as many buyers as usual, after the top prize was announced last night," said a male employee, surnamed Wang, who works at the Sanlitun store.  

"And there have been first-time buyers asking for the details of the winner ever since," said Wang, who was standing behind a booth, counting a wad of cash.

The winning ticket was a lucky dip in the "Dual-Colored Ball" national draw, which is played three times a week.

The minimum price for a ticket is 2 yuan, however buyers can gamble by raising the stakes if they pay extra money. In this case, the winner paid an extra 220 yuan to potentially multiply his winnings by 110 times.

On Tuesday, the top prize was 5.18 million yuan, according to the BWLC website, which means the winner will receive 110 times the top prize. Another winner in Shunyi district just bought a basic ticket, and will get 5.18 million yuan. 

BWLC yesterday refused to say if the lucky buyer had claimed the prize, nor would give further details.

The previous lottery record in China was won in Zhejiang Province last July, with a jackpot of 565 million yuan.

Another employee at the store, surnamed Hou, who allegedly sold the jackpot ticket on Tuesday afternoon, said it was bought by a single ticket-holder who is a regular customer. Usually the man, in his 40s, would choose his own numbers, Hou said, but this time he let the machine pick them.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a constant stream of customers or journalists arriving to ask if it's "the place that sold the first-prize lottery ticket" or asking "who is the lucky buyer, the billionaire-to-be?"

A regular lottery buyer, surnamed Zhang, came all the way from Xizhimen, Haidian district, to buy a ticket. He planned to spend 200 yuan to buy 100 tickets for the next draw.

"I jumped in a taxi as soon I found out about it. I wanted to share the fresh luck to increase the odds of winning it," said Zhang.

While thousands of Web users bemoaned the fact that they were not the victor, winning a big lottery prize does not necessarily guarantee a happily-ever-after life, as some previous big winners can testify.

A 60-year-old US businessman, Jack Whittaker, won $315 million in 2002, but was robbed at a strip club of $545,000 the next year, and was sued for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses, according to a Fox News report this March.

Briton Michael Carroll, a former janitor, won 9.7 million pounds ($15 million) in the UK lottery in 2002, but chose to spend his winnings on drugs and became an alcoholic. Last August he was found attempting to hang himself in his apartment as he felt "his life [was] in despair ever since," the Daily Mail reported on August 16, 2011.

A survey, conducted by the Lottery Research Center at Beijing Normal University this March, showed China has almost 7 million lottery addicts out of a total 200 million who regularly play the game.

Those obsessed with the lottery usually develop signs of psychological addiction which can impact their family relationships, financial situation and other aspects of their life.

"Most of us dream of winning the lottery, but sudden wealth can be a real burden and stressful, because a life-changing fortune changes people as well, including the winner and the people surrounding them," said Chen Haiping, a researcher from the center. 

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