CHINA> Regional
Nation gets lottery fever after massive jackpot
By Lan Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-10-13 07:26

Water-cooler talk across China has been awash with theories on how to spend a fortune after someone from Henan province won nearly 360 million yuan ($52.7 million) on Thursday.

The prize is the country's biggest jackpot to date.

Despite the fact that the lucky winner has not yet stepped forward to claim the prize, many have an opinion on how much happiness it might buy.

"It's incredible." That was the verdict of 75 percent of the 140,000 people taking part in an online survey at Sina.com yesterday.

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Another online poll, organized by www.dayoo.com, the official website of Guangzhou Daily newspaper, found that most people would rush out and "buy a car and house". After that, the consensus was that "travel around the world" and "charity" should follow. Next, people would make "investments" and share their wealth with friends and relatives.

"If I were the winner, I would cash the money into one-yuan coins and build a house with the coins," joked one netizen, tagged Kunde, who commented on www.mop.com, one of China's biggest interactive entertainment portals.

"I would quit my job, buy a plane, and book a ticket for space travel," said netizen Milk Cow on Xici.net, a popular bulletin board.

Lottery tickets are sold on the Chinese mainland to raise money for government welfare services and sports development.

The winning ticket was bought in Anyang city, in Central China's Henan province. The ticket-buyer purchased 44 identical "Double Color Ball" tickets issued by the China Welfare Lottery at a cost of 176 yuan. The lucky transaction was made at 2:55 pm last Thursday, according to the provincial welfare lottery center.

The buyer chose the same two sets of two-digit numbers on each ticket, which brought his total number of stakes to 88.

"The probability of winning the prize is as small as 1 in 18 million," Li Gang, a researcher with Shanghai Normal University's lottery research center, told the Shanghai Morning Post.

If the winner collects the prize money in 100 yuan banknotes, it will weigh 5,400 kg.

A typical wage earner bringing in 2,000 yuan a month would have to work for 10,000 years to earn the equivalent, explained Guangzhou's New Express Daily.

"Double Color Ball" winners must step forward within 30 days to claim their prize and must then pay 20 percent of their winnings in tax, meaning the Henan winner will have to slice off 72 million yuan before walking away with 288 million.

If the winner decides to slap the whole lot into a savings account, he can expect to get around 6.45 million yuan a year in interest.

If the winner is property minded, he could buy about 14,400 sq m of real estate in Beijing, where housing sells for around 20,000 yuan per sq m.

Chen Guixia, the owner of the lottery booth that sold the winning tickets, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying she could not remember the face of the winner, but she said it was a man around 30.

Business has been brisk at the lottery booth that sold the winning ticket, where buyers hoped to catch some of the good luck.

"Anyang has been a lucky city for lottery players for years and it has witnessed five occasions when people have won more than 5 million yuan," a local official said.