Lottery winner makes quiet claim

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, 12:00am

A middle-aged Gansu civil servant who won a record 113 million yuan jackpot in a government-run lottery last week quietly picked up his winnings at an office in Lanzhou on Monday, successfully evading dozens of reporters.

The man, who bought two tickets in the Double Colour Ball welfare lottery in Jiayuguan for 72 yuan, won a total of 113 million yuan, reduced to 90 million yuan after tax, mainland media reported yesterday.

He claimed his money at the Gansu Provincial Welfare Lottery Centre's headquarters on Monday, the centre's vice-director Yu Zhenhai told the Guangzhou-based Information Times. He said the man, who is about 40, showed up at 12.30pm, when almost all the centre's staff and the reporters waiting there had gone for lunch, to avoid revealing his identity.

Amid tensions stoked by the widening wealth gap on the mainland, many millionaires keep their identities hidden for fear that they could become victims of extortion or kidnapping.

'The winner stressed that he did not want to come across any reporters and felt uneasy about media interviews,' Mr Yu said.

He dealt with the man's claim for two hours.

'I won't save the money in banks just to earn interest,' the new millionaire said, when asked what he planned to do with his winnings. 'Now that I'm in possession of this large amount of money, I will put it into some businesses, although I have yet to decide which projects to invest in.

'It's also possible for me to do something else such as taking over some local enterprises to contribute a little to the development of my hometown.'

The man donated 1 million yuan to six social service institutions including welfare groups serving the elderly, orphans and the disabled, and sponsored poor university students who could not afford their tuition fees.

Lotteries are the only form of gambling allowed officially on the mainland. The Sports Lottery Administration Centre under the General Administration of Sport has sold 360 billion yuan worth of lottery tickets since 1987.

Intense interest in the lotteries has been accompanied by speculation that corrupt officials manipulate the results. Sports Lottery Administration Centre vice-director Zhang Huawei was recently charged with receiving more than 165,000 yuan in bribes from a printing firm.

Millions of people have also lost billions of yuan in underground Mark Six gambling in the south of the mainland since the late 1990s, prompting social unrest in many areas.