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A Whole Lotta Italian Lotto

Italy's Lotto Jackpot has hit €70 million, the highest ever in the history of European lotteries. The chance at early retirement has sent Europeans rushing to Bella Italia.


Lotto fever has gripped Italy's would-be millionaires.

They come in flocks from Austria, Slovenia and Germany - trying to do what the Italians haven't been able to do for the past 22 weeks: find the right combination of six numbers and win a multi-million euro lotto jackpot.

A record-breaking 70 million tickets for a drawing on Wednesday night failed to bring a winner for the €58 million Italian jackpot. Now, that number climbs to €70 million ahead of the next drawing on Saturday night.

"We'll have to wait for Saturday, then there are over 100,000 combinations that could win," Cessisi Mondensini, a spokeswoman for the company that runs the lottery told Deutsche Welle.

Italian television put it more to the point: "You are five times more likely to be struck by lightning," as win the jackpot, according to a recent commentary. But that hasn't stopped Italians, and Lotto tourists from neighboring countries from crossing over the border to dream.

"First I'll buy my mother a house. A house with a garden on near the sea at the edge of a city," said one participant from Vienna. "If there something left over, then I'll balance Romania's budget."

Large syndicates take part

Players have to pick six numbers between 1 and 90 at random in order to win. Tickets start at one euro for two combinations and then go up to €2.50, where you can pick five different combinations of numbers.

People have already begun to form large syndicates to increase their chances of winning and then divvying up the jackpot. One 1,000-member syndicate invested around €600,000 in lottery tickets trying to guess the winning number.

Italian politicians have already begun worrying about the winner's fate, calling for measures that allow the multi-million euro jackpot to be made in annual payments and not all at once.

But the government will end up being the clear winner. The Italian lottery has been a state-run monopoly for years. Millions of euros a year go to support sports programs and the restoration of the country's cultural treasures after the prize money is handed out.

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