It seems that once or twice a year a lottery jackpot so high comes along that it sways the country completely with jackpot fever, and now is such a time once again in the Czech Republic. As Radio Prague reports, Czechs will have till Wednesday to stock up on tickets. All it will take are six very lucky numbers to win, for someone to become very, very rich.
A clerk runs through two tickets for an anxious customer, waiting for Wednesday's grand jackpot lottery - some 110 million crowns or almost 4 million US dollars - are in the pot - the largest possible win in the country's history. Last Sunday the amount was barely less - and thousands sat transfixed before their TV sets, scribbling numbers in the sweltering heat, though no one won in the end. Now the stakes have been raised, and once again crowds have queued up as the deadline for the draw has approached. Certainly, most think, somebody will win this time around, though the odds are so great it is important to keep one's dream in perspective. After all, the chance of taking the prize is around one in 14 million - which is more people than there are in the whole of the Czech Republic.
"I bet regularly regardless of lottery fever... The last time I won was in 1961! It would be nice to win: on the other hand, what would I do with all that money?"
"I have never played this lottery: I don't believe I am able to win."
"I don't think it's likely I'd get something for nothing, you know? I don't even know what I'd want!"
"Everybody says 'I'll be the only one in the country!' But, you have to be lucky! Some people use all kinds of tried and true methods and never win; then somebody else goes and chooses any old number... it's all a question of luck!"
Stoic responses perhaps - but most media pictures so far have been different: of people caught in the sway of lottery mania. Some spending ridiculous amounts according to this man who says that while he doesn't bet - all his friends and colleagues do.
"They're spending a lot, thinking they will win."
Meanwhile, this kiosk clerk has surveyed it all.
"The mood is very exciting. Yesterday especially - they will come and bet again today - everybody's in suspense."
In the end, many people will bet on Wednesday, while others will shake their heads at what they see as foolishness. Sceptics always say they couldn't win in a million years, and do everything to ensure they won't - by keeping their money in their wallets. Even if only a few hundred crowns, at least that money is tangible and real.
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