Chinese get onboard, catch Powerball fever

Updated: 2016-01-14 23:00

By YU RAN in Shanghai(

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Chinese get onboard, catch Powerball fever

A customer purchases a Powerball lottery ticket at a news stand on Wall St. in New York January 13, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Gambling-loving Chinese people from across the country bought Powerball lottery tickets through contacts in the United States, hoping to defy the 292 million-to-1 odds against winning the $1.6 billion record jackpot.

The Powerball fever raised questions about how and whether they could collect a prize if they were to win, since many bought their tickets through overseas agents that face little regulation.

Zhou Xiaoling of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, learned about the huge Powerball jackpot by chance from relatives in the United States, and she decided to try her luck.

"Almost everyone in the online family chatroom (more than 30 people) asked my cousin, who saw the news on TV there, to buy up to 10 lottery tickets for fun," said Zhou, who picked two tickets with random numbers through her cousin for $2 per ticket.

After she posted a photo of the tickets on the "moments" feature of her WeChat instant messaging account, Zhou found out that many of her friends in different cities had also purchased tickets through friends or relatives in the US.

"I don't think I will win the prize," Zhou said on Thursday morning, before the drawing, "but I just wanted to join the fun to follow the trend, and to see whether we are extremely lucky or not."

Rita Lu from Shanghai said she joined a lively discussion among friends over the past two days about buying lottery tickets via a friend in the US.

"It is my first time to buy a lottery ticket. Like most friends in China, I just follow and do it for fun," said Lu, who spent 20 yuan and won 40 yuan for correctly choosing one number.

A worker surnamed Guan at an international airline's office in Wenzhou said he spent 40 yuan to buy two tickets through his friend.

Though he said he trusted that the man would not pocket any prize money that might be won, "I won't have any solution if he vanishes," Guan conceded.

To claim a prize, a person must present a winning ticket they have signed on the back, and a valid ID. The California Lottery also accepts claims via mail that are accompanied by a completed official form.

Joe Sun, a marketing professional in Wenzhou who bought tickets through a former classmate, said, "Even if I won the prize, there could be difficulties claiming the prize. I wouldn't have been the person who bought the tickets, and would have no obvious way to back my claim."

The jackpot began at $40 million and has been growing since early November. Players choose five numbers from a pool of 69 and another number, called the Powerball, from a separate pool of 26. Three tickets matched the winning numbers Wednesday's jackpot.