Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sicily town bets wages on lottery !

An advertising board shows the rising jackpot total in Italy's SuperEnalotto lottery on 25 July, 2009
Mr Ridolfo picked numbers connected to the town's patron saint

A Sicilian mayor has come up with a novel plan to resolve his town's cash-flow problems - by betting local officials' salaries on the lottery.

Italy's SuperEnalotto has not been won in weeks, and its jackpot has climbed to an unprecedented 116m euros (£98m).

Ficarra Mayor Basilio Ridolfo and his colleagues have stumped up 115 euros from their pay packet to buy tickets.

The chances of winning Tuesday's draw were higher than those of receiving funds pledged by the state, he said.

And the mayor seems to hope that a little more than luck will boost the town's chances of getting all six numbers correct in the unprecedented draw.

''We chose numbers which were connected with the town's patron saint, the Virgin Mary of the Assumption," Mr Ridolfo was quoted as saying by Ansa news agency.

"It is our hope that, with her blessing, we will hit the jackpot."

If Ficarra does strike it lucky, Mr Ridolfo said half of the winnings would be spent on municipal projects while the rest would be divided between the town's 2,000 residents.

While the odds are long, it would be the second big windfall for Sicily in less than a year if Ficarra - which nestles on green hilltops overlooking Sicily's northern coast - were to win.

SuperEnalotto's previous record jackpot was £85m, won in October 2008 in another Sicilian town, Catania.

Winning numbers are drawn three times a week, but the jackpot has rolled over for several months as no ticket holder has correctly picked all six numbers.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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