Millions of Turkish people are getting ready to play for a titanic cash prize in the country’s epic New Year lottery – prompting an outburst of superstition from some.
From buying tickets in particularly ‘lucky’ retailers to being struck by bird droppings, some Turkish people are clearly keen to bag the jackpot – a sum 50,000 times that of the country’s monthly minimum wage.
Days before the lottery draw, would-be winners have been forming long lines in front of the ‘Nimet Abla’ [Blessed Sister] outlet in Eminonu, the most famous ticket agency in Istanbul.
Despite wet, cold and windy weather, punters have endured long waiting times, huddled under wind-buffeted umbrellas – all to buy lucky tickets in the belief that Nimet Abla’s are the best.
However, one enterprising ticket seller on the street shouts to those waiting in line that “if you are lucky, it doesn’t matter where you got your ticket”.
The New Year lottery in 2015 will deliver a jackpot of 55 million Turkish liras ($19 million) to one lucky winner, while a total of $99 million in prizes will be allocated to a larger number of other ticket holders.
These prizes will change the lives of thousands people in a country where the monthly minimum wage is currently around $340.
Ticket seller, Ahmet Mutlu believes that if people want to bag the right tickets, they should wait for the right time before buying.
After asking Mutlu what is the proper time, he promptly answers: “Bird droppings,” adding that “in my belief, being hit by bird droppings brings luck”.
To strengthen his argument, Mutlu recalls his own experience from last month while he was selling lottery tickets on the street.
On a sunny day, birds were flying overhead and one of them dirtied the bunch of tickets he was carrying in his hand.
Mutlu decided that he could not sell these and kept them to return to the Lottery Agency.
After he has handed back the tickets, he learned that one of them came up with a winning number – netting a cool $7,000.
Halime Ergun, an Istanbul housewife, tells Anadolu Agency that she was standing in line outside Nimet Abla after a lucky – or possibly unlucky – aerial encounter.
As she was walking earlier with her family in Istanbul’s historic Gulhane Park, a passing bird dirtied her daughter’s shoulder.
She said that although she personally does not believe in such superstition, she nevertheless decided to buy a ticket.
Ergun said her dream – if she wins the jackpot – would be to spend the money on her children’s education and invest in opportunities for women who were out of work.
Salih Dogan, a university student, was other hopeful standing in line – and he too had his own bird-dropping experiences.
“For three years, I got lottery tickets whenever birds hit me. But I never won a prize. It’s not about good luck,” he says.
Dogan – clearly aware of slim possibility of hitting the jackpot – says that “the odds are 1-in-10 million” but he maintains his hope by purchasing tickets every time.
“Ultimately someone will hit that prize, so it could be mine” he says.
Regardless of good-luck charms or bird droppings, someone will win the huge amount of money – but the main winner will be the Turkish government.
The Turkish National Lottery Directorate has revealed that when all the tickets are sold, the total income will be $170 million.
About 99 percent of the tickets have already been sold and it is expected that the remainder will be sold within days, a spokesman for the directorate said on Monday.
Although the amounts of the national lottery’s New Year prize have been increasing every year, the decreasing value of the Turkish lira against other currencies in 2015 has affected the worth of the total amount.
This year’s jackpot is 55 million Turkish liras ($19 million) but last year the amount was 50 million liras ($22 million at that time).
Anyone who wants to share in the prizes can buy ticket at full price for 50 liras ($17). A half-price option is 25 liras ($8.5) and a quarter-price ticket is 12.5 liras ($4.25).
If the winning numbers appear among the full-price tickets, that holder will not have to share the big prize because these numbers are unique.
However, in the half- and quarter- options, those winners have to divide up their prizes by 50 to 25 percent to share with winner who have same number.
When the lottery draw is held on Thursday night, Turkey will see if these superstitions pay off.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.