"Come on Ah Tan! Buy one," beckoned the lottery ticket salesman. He had set up a makeshift stall outside the busy and loud food centre, hawking his tickets. It was the last day of the Singapore Big Sweep season and his tickets were selling like hot cakes.
Ah Tan, poor though he was, fished out a few soiled coins and counted out one dollar. The lottery ticket seller flashed a toothy grin, showing off a gold-plated tooth, and randomly handed Ah Tan a ticket. Ah Tan scrutinized that slip of paper.
"Five, five, nine, one, one" he muttered under his breath. Frustrated at having bought a ticket just to appease his friend, he stuffed it away carelessly in his shirt pocket. Now he had to do without lunch and hunger was pinching his stomach.
A few days later at work, he heard two middle-aged ladies talking seriously between themselves about the Singapore Big Sweep Draw. It seems that the prize winner had not come forward to collect his money. Ah Tan's heartbeat rose. His grip on the mop slackened. His stomach knotted in anticipation, as he felt pangs of eagerness overwhelm his being. The prize money was untouched and not claimed by anyone. Maybe, after all, he did stand a chance.
Ah Tan put the mop aside and entered the reading room of the huge office building. Neatly placed on the table was the daily copy of The Straits Times. With shivering hands, Ah Tan flipped the pages furtively, looking for the Big Sweep advertisement. What he saw astounded him. He collapsed onto the sofa clumsily.
Ah Tan had won the first prize. A grand total of one million dollars was all his. It was unbelievable and so unexpected. Ah Tan hurried to the nearest lottery shop during the lunch hour and cashed his ticket.
His life would change from then on. Ah Tan was no longer the drab old man cleaning away people's dirty footstep, but the rich and famous businessman. Ah Tan set up a small shop selling commodities. He was thrifty and saved hard. His good services and courteous ways...