Updated 26 April 2013

Lotto frenzy

The possibility of a R57m Lotto win turned the heads of these five non-gamblers in the office completely. Here's what went down, says Susan Erasmus.

The possibility of a R57m Lotto win turned the heads of these five non-gamblers in the office completely. How did this happen, asks Susan Erasmus?

It's all my fault and I freely admit it. As I was browsing News24's headlines yesterday, I saw the alluring snippet about the R57m rollover prize.

The thought of winning such a huge amount of money made my enthusiasm contagious. It was the day before payday, which severely limited the possible levels of contributions. This may have been a good thing, because once you have that greedy glint in the eye, all logic flies out the window – a fact widely acknowledged by casino staff.
Let's get real

I know all the stats – I am more likely to be bitten to death by a donkey, or see a lion in Adderley Street than I am to win the lottery. And this is precisely why I hardly ever play.

I have never quite worked out how the Lottery works, as I usually buy a ticket about once a year. So every time I play something's changed. It's no longer R2,50, but R3,50 a line and there is now something called Lotto Plus. I am sure it's been there for years, but as I say I am no expert.

Within minutes R10-notes were raining down on my desk. I had hardly finished the sentence which started with something like: "Shan't we all club together and buy a Lotto ticket – the prize money is…." and I had R50 on my desk.

Admittedly no staggering amount, but those of you who are salary earners will appreciate what this means on the last day before payday. I know it's a bit pathetic, but we had to canvass other staff members (who wisely all said they had no money on them) on how this thing actually works. One colleague, who tellingly wouldn't join in as her brother is a regular player, could give us the lowdown.

Our ticket
So for our R50 we settled for buying 10 lines with Lotto Plus. Never let ignorance stand in the way of dreams of great riches. And boy, did we dream. Island holidays, home renovations, new cars, settling of debts. For some reason Hawaii and Hawaiian shirts kept being mentioned (not by me – there are about 500 places I would rather go to).

Everyone was rather shamefaced at the fact that charity was only mentioned much later as an afterthought. It happens in the midst of a fantasized spending spree and a general air of acquisitiveness. We're only human.

The buyer of the ticket emerged from the CBD triumphant and interrupted our dreams. And immediately paranoia set in: who is going to keep the ticket, and how can we prevent one person from pocketing it all and disappearing over the horizon in a dust cloud? So the ticket was photocopied five times and the original hidden in a dictionary.
The countdown began. I assumed that colleagues would phone me if we landed the BIG ONE. And so did everyone else. I decided not to check the results before going to bed, because I knew if I had won, I would be so excited that I wouldn't sleep. Don't you just love an optimist?

So it was only this morning we realised that early retirement wasn't on the cards. Two people in SA had won, but our numbers didn't all come up. But three did. We triumphantly collected our R33 and split it. It's probably a good thing we didn't win more, as it might have tipped us into compulsive gambling as a group, which might have been problematic on such a small staff.

In the end the 24-hour fantasy cost us each R3,40.  I reckon that's a bargain in anyone's language. We are now collectively in post-Lotto doldrums. No Hawaii (but thank God also no Hawaiian shirts), no new cars, no new life of glamour. In a funny way it's quite a relief. I must be getting old.

So who is in for Saturday's Lotto?



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