First came shock and envy. Then speculation on the identity of China's biggest-ever lottery prize winner. And finally came suspicion over the credibility of the country's lottery industry.
Public sentiment had made a dramatic turn two weeks after lottery officials announced on Oct 8 that the winning ticket worth almost 360 million yuan ($52.7 million) was bought in Anyang city, central China's Henan province.
The unidentified buyer has yet to come forward to claim the gigantic "Dual-colored Ball" jackpot of the China Welfare Lottery.
Calls from the public and the media have poured into the Henan Provincial Welfare Lottery Center, asking for the identity of the winner.
When lottery officials released the address of the outlet that sold the winning ticket in Anyang's Yindu district, reporters from across the country swarmed into the small store, trying to dig up details of the winner.
"I vaguely remembered that a man in his 30s or 40s bought that ticket," recalled the vendor, Chen Guixia. "He spoke with a local accent.
"The player is not a regular customer in my shop. I can't remember exactly how he looked and dressed," she said.
Before selling the record jackpot winning ticket, Chen had sold second prizes in the Welfare Lottery twice since opening for business in 2001.
Rumors circulating among the media and local community pointed to different versions on the winner's identity, including a truck driver, a security guard, a steel products store owner and a pool of four people.
According to the Provincial Welfare Lottery Center, the buyer chose two lines of the same seven numbers, printed on a single ticket with a 44-draw spread, at a cost of 176 yuan at 2:55 pm on Oct 8. The ticket's total number of top prize stakes came to 88.
The Dual-colored Ball lottery consists of six red ball numbers from 1 to 33 plus one blue ball number from 1 to 16. A maximum of five bets can be printed on one ticket and players can spread the bet over multiple draws using the same set of numbers.
The jackpot numbers drawn that evening were 05, 12, 16, 25, 26, 27 and 31.
The winner must pay 20 percent of the win in a personal windfall income tax, or about 72 million yuan.