Monday, April 4, 2011

You Lucky Duck - Part II, The Jumbo, ElGordo and Other Big Ones

Have you ever wondered what it's like to win the lottery?  

Well, if you believe the testimony of some of the lottery winners on the American TV show, "Winning the Lottery Changed my Life," it's not a pretty picture. First, your long lost relatives arrive in droves looking for a handout.  Then you're stalked by crazy people.  Then you wind up living in a trailer, having spent all your loot on silly things like trips to Las Vegas and pony farms.  Not a pretty picture!

The dangers of winning big in Italy are different - the police advise lottery winners not to reveal their identities in case criminals show up on their doorsteps.
Well, chances are you won't have to face any of these problems because despite what the commercials and posters depict, the odds of winning are against you.

Here are the bubble bursting facts:  the odds of you winning let's say, the 6/49 in Canada are 1:13,983,816.  In Italy, your odds of winning the SuperEnalotto are 1:622,614,630 In France's Loto the odds are 1:1,906,884.  By contrast, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, your odds of being struck by lightning in any given year is 1:700,000 but if you live to the ripe old age of 80, the odds increase to 1 in 6,250.  If you're holding an umbrella, the odds are even higher.

Well don't let all of that discourage you because we all know that you're one lucky duck and Big Daddy will tell you how to invest your winnings.

So let's push aside all the dangers and impossible odds and just go for it.  The big question is, just how do you choose which numbers to play?  Well, let's rely on the wisdom of a past winner.  In 1992, "Mr Lucky" aka, Dennis Sanfilippo won a whopping $30,000,000 in the SuperLotto in the United States.  He  said that he chose his favourite numbers, "7" and "11" and just for good measure, he bought the winning ticket along with 11 other tickets at the 7/11 convenience store at 11:00.  So that's the secret!

If you'd like a more modern approach to choosing numbers, Apple offers a free iPod app that generates random numbers that fit the format of each of the world's 9 biggest lotteries.   I downloaded it the minute I learned about it.

If you're ever in Italy buying SuperEnalotto tickets and you need some help picking numbers you need look no further than your  own dreams.  Wherever  you buy tickets in Italy you will find Cabala Sogni Lotto pictograph posters in which 90 numbers correspond to 90 different images.  For example, the number "3" corresponds to a cat.  Since I often dream of cats I usually include the number "3" as one of my 6 numbers.  Taking a page from "Mr Lucky", I include "11", coincidentally, a mouse.

Italian Lottery Tickets.  Auntie Lost...

Ever the realist, Uncle Jim  gave me some number picking advice:  I would have as much of a chance of winning the lotto with consecutive numbers like 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 as any other set of numbers.  That was a bit of a buzz kill.

The largest lottery prize ever won in Europe was from Italy's SuperEnalotto.  The winning ticket was purchased in August of 2009 in Bagnone, Tuscany at a little neighbourhood  hole-in-the-wall called the "Biffi Bar."   The prize money was an unbelievable €147,807,299.08.  The prize was  claimed but the winner has yet to be identified, probably following the advice of the local police. 
A Tokyo Chance Center
Despite the sky high odds against you it's hard not to get caught up in all the fun. In Tokyo recently, I blew 30 on a package of 10 "Jumbo"  tickets because I liked the fun looking guy on the posters and there was someone enthusiastically yelling into a bullhorn drawing crowds to the nearby "Chance Center."  I had no idea what the tickets cost, what the prize was, how to claim it or when the draw was taking place but I thought, what the heck?

When I got home I asked my Japanese friend to help me find the winning Jumbo numbers on the Internet.  Sadly, I lost but as a charming gesture, everyone who buys the 10 pack gets ¥300 (about $3.50 US) as a consolation prize just for playing.  Now I have another reason to return to Japan, as if I needed one.
Japan's Takara-Kuji "Fortune" Lottery Tickets.  Auntie Lost...
Even though I lost the Jumbo I now know what all the fuss was about:  with a total payout of $1.14 billion, the Jumbo has the highest payout in Asia - the second largest in the world.  The prize money in Spain's gigantic ElGordo tops the list.  

Hmm...we haven't been to Spain in ages....

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