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Learning English - Words in the News
10 April, 2006 - Published 09:53 GMT
Lebanon's Record Lottery Jackpot
Lebanese have gone in large numbers to buy tickets

Lottery fever is gripping Lebanon, with thousands of people still rushing to buy tickets before the Monday evening draw. The top prize has not been won since the beginning of the year and this will be the biggest jackpot in the country's recent history. This report from Kim Ghattas:

Listen to the story

Six billion three hundred and six million, six hundred and nineteen thousand four hundred and thirty eight Lebanese pounds, a dizzying amount of money, enough to make anyone in Lebanon daydream. It may only be the equivalent of about four million US dollars, but for the Lebanese, it's a record amount which can go a long way. The last big jackpot was just over three million US dollars and was won in 2003.

Over the last few weeks, people all over the country have been queuing up to pay one US dollar for a lottery ticket. Sometimes, they've been buying several and in the case of one man, more than six hundred tickets. But it's not only about the money, even if most Lebanese would welcome it during these dire economic times.

It's been a difficult year for Lebanon, marred by political uncertainty, bombings and a general feeling of hopelessness. So the lottery is the one topic that gets everybody excited and hopeful. Even people who never bought a lottery ticket before have joined the race and it's also apparently helped to relax a tense political atmosphere, according to a caricature in a Lebanese newspaper. Ten days ago, the president and several ministers traded insults during a stormy cabinet session. But last week's meeting on lottery night was very quiet. The caricature shows all the ministers hypnotised by the television screen as the winning numbers are drawn.

Kim Ghattas, BBC News, Beirut

Listen to the words

the big first prize

a dizzying amount of money
a very large amount of money

the equivalent of about
about the same as

dire economic times
very difficult financial situation

marred by
spoiled by, damaged by

a tense political atmosphere
a situation in politics which is not relaxed, when there is a bad atmosphere between politicians and political parties

a caricature
a cartoon, a funny drawing

traded insults
said rude and impolite things to each other

a stormy cabinet session
a meeting of the government ministers when there was a lot of argument

hypnotised by
calmed by, controlled by, unable to think of anything else

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