Legendary Turkish lottery vendor attracts big crowds
The 2019 New Year’s Special Jackpot in Turkey attracted hundreds of lottery players from far and wide who were hoping for a chance to win this year’s TL 80 million (about US13.4 million) jackpot to an unexpected source for good luck. Nimet Abla, a tiny vendor in the historic quarter of Eminönü, Istanbul, has become famous over the years for selling a number of winning lottery tickets.
An 85-year-old woman called Nazmiye Şen said "I'm lucky like that, I might win it. I'll buy a house, give most of it to my children. I will also have my grave built," while Aslan Çiçek, a lottery player who had travelled from neighbouring Kocaeli province said: “My daughter wanted to see this place. I will donate some of it to charities if I win the jackpot.” A woman from Mersin named Gülsüm Değirmenci also said: “Even my friends wanted one. I bought some for them too.”
The story began when a lady called Melek Nimet Özden sold a winning lottery ticket in 1931 and it made the headlines in local newspapers. Her legend grew from that point onwards as she sold more and more winning tickets from that same outlet over the years. This created the urban legend of winning tickets somehow being easier to purchase at Nimet Abla than at other stores. Özden passed away in 1978, after running the tiny store for decades. However, the legend of winning lottery tickets being bought from this particular shop have not died, as could be seen again this year.
The draw was held on 31st December, with four fortunate players sharing the top prize of nearly US$13.5 million, with the winners coming from Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa and Gaziantep. It is not yet known if Nimet Abla had a hand in this good fortune.
Billions of euros given away in Spanish Christmas Lottery
Spain’s ‘El Gordo’ Christmas Lottery delivers billions of euros in prize money every year and the 2019 edition of the draw was no different. Players across the country celebrated as they took a share of a prize pool worth over €2 billion. One news reporter even found out that she had won a prize live on air and took the opportunity to join in the celebrations with other players.
El Gordo – or ‘The Fat One’ – has been around since 1821 and it is one of the most anticipated events in Spain’s calendar. It is customary for friends, families, and even whole communities to share tickets, so when one person wins, many win. The draw takes place on 22nd December every year and it is an extravagant occasion, with the winning numbers announced to a waiting crowd by local schoolchildren.
Tradition continues with the German Weihnachtslotterie
Modelled on Spain’s El Gordo, the German Christmas Lottery – or ‘Deutsche Weihnachtslotterie’ – is another draw that gives away thousands of prizes every year. Like the Spanish Christmas Lottery it is a traditional raffle in which tickets numbered from 00000 to 99999 are drawn and players win by matching some or all of the winning numbers.
The draw takes place on 26th December every year and the top prize is worth €400,000. The prize categories are named after figures from the Nativity, including Maria and Josef, and players can even win a prize by matching just the last digit or neighbouring digits of the winning raffle number. For example, in 2019 the winning number for the €400,000 first prize was 50131, so players who had a ticket number with the final digit 0, 1, or 2 all won a prize. This provides very good odds, with every one in three tickets winning something.
UK players benefit from special Lotto and EuroMillions draws
Christmas is always a special time of year for lottery players in the UK as there is always some sort of special draw scheduled to take place. 2019 was extra special, though, as it was the UK National Lottery’s 25th birthday and there were several celebratory draws held to mark the occasion. The festivities started in November with special Lotto draws and carried right through to New Year’s Eve, when 10 millionaires were guaranteed in that night’s EuroMillions draw.
That followed a Christmas Day edition of UK Lotto, which offered a guaranteed jackpot of £15 million. It was what’s known as a ‘Must Be Won’ draw, which means that the jackpot prize money was guaranteed to be given away, even if no one matched enough numbers to win it. As it happened, no one did hit the six numbers needed to win the jackpot outright so the £15 million was shared between other winners, making it a Christmas to remember for nearly 140,000 players.