Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Big Lotto fever grips the country

FEELING LUCKY Laborers, politicians and students joined long lines to get a chance at winning the NT$1.2 billion jackpot. In the end there were two

By Cynthia Lee and Jennifer Lee  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTERS

People line up to buy Big Lotto tickets in Taipei yesterday, hoping to win the jackpot of NT$1.2 billion.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Who wants to become a billionaire? The first prize in last night's Big Lotto draw snowballed to NT$1.22 billion (US$35 million), the biggest since the Big Lotto was launched. The absence of any winners for the past six draws contributed to the unprecedented top prize.

Even Premier Yu Shyi-kun took the opportunity when he paid a visit to Chiufen yesterday. Yu told the press that he bought a NT$100 ticket, and if he won, he would donate his prize to welfare groups for Aborigines.

Lotto shops and stalls have been constantly filled with throngs of customers over the past few days. Long queues appeared in every lotto shop.

Professionals, laborers, office ladies, students and foreigners were swept up in the "lottery fever."

Owners of lottery ticket stations also received a lot of overseas calls from countries such as the US, Canada and China.

"Long queues have been growing since 9am this morning. We even had to have people take numbers in order to shorten the queue over lunchtime," Tsai Wei-chin of the Yin Chia Lotto Shop said yesterday.

"This is the largest number of tickets the Big Lotto has ever sold. One customer even bought NT$150,000 worth of tickets," he said.

Among the throngs of customers was a woman surnamed Yang, who had never bought a Lotto ticket before.

She and seven of her colleagues decided to club together to buy a ticket.

Each of them contributed NT$50 and picked one number.

A lottery Web site named "Big A" had collected NT$268,000 from its 170 members by yesterday. The person responsible for the Web site said he would apply for police protection if they won.

Foreigners also appeared over-whelmed by the prospect of winning the jackpot.

A US businessman and five of his friends pooled NT$150,000 to buy tickets. They chose to bet on numbers assigned by computer at a lottery station at Shihlin.

One Japanese tourist spent a few thousand dollars buying tickets immediately after getting off the plane at CKS International Airport.

Many overseas workers were also enthusiastic about winning.

A Thai worker said he came here to work for a better life and usually spent his money on nothing but necessities, but the NT$1.2 billion jackpot was just too attractive to refuse.

In the end, there were two winning tickets last night.

The ticketholders of the winning Big Lotto tickets will share a total of NT$1.22 billion, TaipeiBank said last night.

The bank said the winning numbers were 30, 21, 24, 14, 27, 13 and the special number was 20.

One of the winning tickets was sold at a lottery station on Chung-hsiao East Rd. Sec. 5 in Taipei.

The other winner was bought from a station on Tzuli Second Rd. in Kaohsiung.

Sales for yesterday's Big Lotto totalled NT$2,642,708,250.

The total amount for the prize pool was NT$1,506,343,702.

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