Winner unfazed by big Net gain

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 May, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 May, 2000, 12:00am

Wang Xun always considered himself lucky. Just how lucky, the Nanjing native discovered when he hit the US$1 million (HK$7.78 million) jackpot on an Internet slot machine last month. 'I always thought I would be a millionaire by the time I was 30,' he said. 'That's renminbi, not dollars.' Mr Wang, 23, was playing a virtual slot machine at Jackpot.com, an online gaming company in Pasadena, California. His haul has made him one of the most talked-about people in his hometown.


Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Mr Wang cuts an unimposing figure. A recent graduate of Nanjing's Southeast University, he works at a cable television station, where he is responsible for designing and building an in-house computer network and a cable modem system.


He likes to surf the Net, navigating his way around advertisement sites that offer prizes in exchange for viewing online promotions. 'They sprang up like mushrooms early this year,' he said. 'But a lot of them had bugs and I stopped trying them.' Jackpot.com was launched on April 3. Time spent perusing its advertisements entitles viewers to try their luck. For every minute of advertising viewed, the user gets one free spin at the slot machine.


Instead of bells, cherries and sevens, Jackpot.com displays the logos of its advertisers. It claims eight million page views per week. Some 1,000 registered users are on the mainland. This was the first grand prize for a firm that vows to give away US$1.5 million a month.


Mr Wang has been connected for some time, first venturing into cyberspace four years ago. In the weeks since he found out about Jackpot.com, he has spent two to three hours a day viewing adverts and playing the virtual slot machine.


In the late afternoon of April 24, Mr Wang had just finished work and was playing Jackpot on his office computer when he struck it big. At first, he didn't really believe he had won.


His parents didn't believe it either. Mr Wang's father, a salesman with a state-owned cosmetics firm, and his mother, a department store accountant, told him not to get his hopes up.


Mr Wang said he slept fitfully. The next day there was still no word and his doubts began to grow. But by noon on Wednesday, an e-mail arrived from Jackpot.com confirming his bonanza. 'Now my parents believe it's true,' he said.


Collecting the money has posed something of a problem both for Jackpot.com and for Mr Wang, as there are tax and remittance considerations. Mr Wang reckons that by the time his prize is calculated as a one-time lump payment and taxes are paid, he might only receive US$250,000. But 'I still feel pretty lucky,' he said.


He is not about to quit his job, where he earns around 3,000 yuan (HK$2,820) a month. 'I like where I work, I enjoy my colleagues, and there is still a lot to do here,' he said.


Asked whether he was plotting a long vacation or a large purchase, Mr Wang said he was thinking of buying a house in Nanjing. A trip to Europe or the United States sounded fine, too. And if there was any money left over, he was toying with the idea of starting his own e-commerce company.


 

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