22 October 2016
Hongkongers queue up for the HK$100 million Mark Six Jackpot, with many dreaming of living overseas if they win tonight. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg
Hongkongers queue up for the HK$100 million Mark Six Jackpot, with many dreaming of living overseas if they win tonight. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg

So what do you plan to do with your HK$100 million?

Have you bought your Mark Six ticket yet?

Unless you’ve just returned from outer space, you know that tonight’s jackpot is HK$100 million.

And if you don’t intend to buy a ticket, it probably means you sincerely believe you don’t have a chance of winning the top prize or you simply don’t know how to spend all that money.

(Take it from Jack Ma, who said he wasn’t happy about becoming China’s richest man after Alibaba’s blockbuster IPO in September 2014.)

The big prize, which is meant to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mark Six lottery, has turned the city into a frenzy with thousands of punters queueing up at Jockey Club’s 100 outlets across the city (or clicking on their mobile phones or computers), praying to the God of Luck that they be bestowed this blessing for the sake of their family and the good of mankind.

Just imagine: For a HK$10 bet, one gets to win a maximum of 10 million returns.

The last big jackpot was seen in September 2014, when two winners shared the record-breaking jackpot of HK$160 million, or over HK$80 million each.

The total betting pool at the time was HK$348 million, compared with HK$240 million as of midnight Monday.

Of course, the likelihood of winning the jackpot is one in 13.98 million, which is less than the chance of having four babies in one go, or being hit by lightning twice.

Still, I’m surprised by the amount of media coverage devoted to this mega lottery. Two pro-Beijing newspapers, Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po, have gone full blast on the event, with each devoting five stories on an entire page, trumping the coverage of Apple Daily and other local dailies.

Given the two papers’ political and editorial slant, one would surmise that the jackpot is Beijing’s way of cheering up Hong Kong people to make them forget for a while about Leung Chun-ying’s bad administration.

From time to time, Mark Six gives you an insight into the secret and not-so-secret desires of ordinary people. 

For example, unless you own 10 properties in Hong Kong, in which case you don’t need to join the Mark Six herd, most people say that if they win the jackpot, they’ll buy a home for themselves and their loved ones.

This time, however, I asked a dozen ex-Hong Kong Economic Journal reporters who worked during the ’70s and ’90s (some of whom even have their second generation ready to serve and save the industry) about what they intend to do with the jackpot.

They said they also would like to buy property, not in Hong Kong but in the United Kingdom.

Obviously, they intend to take advantage of the falling British pound, and hope that the further weakening of the currency may present even better buying opportunities.

Of course, they are talking as former journos who are well attuned to the financial and property markets.

And based on their experience, buying a home in London for investment in the past three decades could cover tuition and living costs of their children.

I wonder, though, if they would still bother about measly profits if they won the jackpot.

My father-in-law, who is now 80 years old, also surprised me by disclosing to me his plan to migrate to Canada. 

He fled China some 50 years ago out of fear of the communists, and after the 1997 handover, he felt something was wrong and saw no way out except for his fading dream to leave for a better place.

Unfortunately, only a lucky few will have that option after tonight.

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EJ Insight writer

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