Happiness is a fleeting feeling, literally at times. In Naples, in a tobacco shop with lottery acceptance in the old part of Materdei, a 70-year-old woman was incredibly lucky. She bought a scratch card for ten euros, a “Gratta e vinci”, Rubble and win!, very popular in Italy. When that was a failure, she bought a second and won 500,000 euros. The number struck her so crazy that she showed her lot to an employee of the shop, who confirmed: “Sì, sì, Signora – 500,000.” But then he brought in the boss, so as not to go wrong. Half a million!
Well that tabaccaioAs they call the owners of these shops in Italy, 57 years old and well-known in the whole neighborhood, looked at the ticket briefly, put it in his pocket, grabbed his motorcycle helmet and disappeared through a back exit. What remained: a perplexed lady and a no less astonished employee. When it became clear that the lucky thief was not coming back, they reported the case to the police, who informed the Customs and Monopoly Agency, which is under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and is responsible for administering the lottery in the country.
She blocked the entire series of “Gratta e vinci” in Naples so that the amount could not be redeemed. The agency also issued a wanted notification, nationally, including to the border police. As unlikely as it might seem that the towered shopkeeper would set off abroad with the stolen ticket as if he had cash with him – you never know.
The store is now being overrun
And indeed: when the man tried a few hours later to check-in at Fiumicino Airport in Rome for a flight to the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, the system struck and he could be stopped. He didn’t have the ticket with him, the money was supposed to be collected by someone else and then forwarded. The suspect was not arrested for the time being, as he had never had problems with the judiciary before.
The agency for tariffs and monopolies will probably now withdraw the license for tickets and lotteries from his shop. And that is of course very unfortunate: no sooner had the story of the elderly lady’s win made the rounds than many Neapolitans flocked to Materdei to try their luck. In Italy this is an old, albeit somewhat mysterious, reflex against all the rules of probability theory: If a customer wins a big win at a retail outlet, they are literally overrun as if they were kissed by happiness, blessed by the gods. And because that’s the way it is, the acceptance points like to celebrate the happiness of their customers with the lottery or the Superenalotto with fireworks and Prosecco – especially in the south. A bit as if they had been awarded a seal of quality, similar to the way restaurants celebrate stars from the “Guide Michelin”.
But with all the joy about the profit of the customers: It is possible that the envy gnaws especially with those who sell these life-changing tickets in their shops. The neighbors of the tabaccaio from Materdei tell the media that the man’s reaction surprised them very much, that that is not his way at all. A moment of madness?