LUCKY LORE

Tips from the top

by Yoko Hani

Feeling lucky? This time, you’re certain, you just know the takarakuji is as good as yours.

So you go to what is widely acknowledged as the luckiest sales booth in town and join a line of other hopefuls. You’ve also researched precisely how to hit the jackpot. Full of excitement, you hand over your money, stash your tickets somewhere really safe — and start counting the days until the draw.

But when that day dawns and — yet again — your lottery numbers are inexplicably not the lucky ones, it’s back to dreaming about next time.

Or, maybe, you’ll resolve to simply stop wasting money this way.

That resolution might be shaken, though, if you pick up a copy of the annual “Takarakuji Millionaires White Paper.”

Published by Mizuho Bank, the annual white paper is a key source of those tidbits of information so beloved of lottery players. This year, it includes the data on 1,368 winners who each walked off with more than 10 million yen in fiscal 2002.

“The white paper was originally published in response to skeptics asking if anyone ever did really win the takarakuji,” said Ayako Honda, a spokeswoman for the bank’s takarakuji section, which compiles the white paper based on the answers to a questionnaire distributed to winners.

Also, as part of their service to winners, Honda’s section gives each of those bagging more than 10 million yen a booklet titled “Sonohi kara yomu hon (A Book You Start Reading on That Day).” The main messages of the booklet (subtitled “Don’t Be Upset by Your Sudden Luck”) are “Do not panic” and “Give careful thought to how to use the money,” Honda says.

Although the white paper is undoubtedly a good way of luring lottery losers back to try their luck just one more time, it also gives an entertaining glimpse into ordinary lives suddenly transformed into the extraordinary by the takarakuji. Honda added that big-money winners often say they remember something unusual that happened before their windfall — perhaps an encounter with a dead family member in a dream — though such anecdotes are not included in the white paper.

Instead, what wannabe winners will find in the current white paper are some salient facts about the 974 men and 394 women who struck it rich; facts that may restore your fighting spirit . . . or not. Here are some interesting details:

Winners’ profiles

Males: Of the 974 male winners, a statistic-busting 27 winners have the initials T.K. In terms of age, 30 percent of the winners are in their 50s. About 50 percent of male winners are company employees. About 11 percent are Aquarians and 40 percent have blood type A. About 60 percent of them have been purchasing takarakuji tickets for more than 10 years.

Females: Of the 394 female winners, the biggest group, comprising 18 winners, have the initials M.K. About 30 percent of them are in their 50s and 40 percent are housewives. Eleven percent are Pisceans and 40 percent have blood type A. Forty-seven percent of the winners have been purchasing takarakuji tickets for more than 10 years.

Age: About 30 percent of all respondents were in their 50s, followed by 26 percent in their 60s, and 19 percent in their 40s. The three age groups accounted for 75 percent of the 1,368 winners surveyed for the white paper.

Occupation: About 40 percent of all respondents said they were company employees, followed by 16 percent who said they were unemployed or retired. Another 14 percent described themselves as independent business people. Twelve percent were housewives.

Seldom or often?

About 60 percent of winners have been buying takarakuji for more than 10 years, and about 17 percent for five to 10 years. However, impulse buyers can take heart from the fact that about 3 percent of respondents said that they were playing takarakuji for the first time when they hit their 10 million yen-plus jackpot.

Few or many?

The largest group, or 13 percent of the 1,368 winners, said they usually buy 30 tickets, followed by 10 percent of the winners, who buy 10 tickets. However, another 10 percent said they normally buy more than 100 tickets each time.

Hiding places

About 20 percent of those surveyed said they kept their winning ticket in their desk drawer at home before contacting the bank, followed by 13 percent of them who entrusted it to their household Buddhist altar or a Shinto shrine.

What to do with it?

About 40 percent of the winners said they planned to save their windfall. Another 30 percent said they would use it to buy property or clear off loans. Only a few said they planned to splurge on leisure activities.

New lives for old?

More than half the winners replied in the negative when asked if their new-found wealth would change their lifestyle. A mere 2.1 percent said they planned to change or quit their jobs.

Secrets of success

Takarakuji winners put their good fortune down to: luck (60 percent), perseverance (17 percent) . . . and a “reward for daily good conduct” (11 percent).

So now you know what it takes — perhaps there’s nothing to stop you figuring in next year’s white paper?