I couldn’t help but chuckle yesterday when I watched eNCA’s interview with the 50-year-old PowerBall winner of R232 million.
He was at lottery operator Ithuba’s offices in Joburg to claim his behemoth prize.
It was quite sweet to hear him talk. Here was a guy who’s clearly been down on his luck for most of his life, and he’s now become the richest jackpot winner in South African history. It would have been tragic if he’d lost his ticket and the big prize was forfeited. It’s happened before. I’m glad it didn’t this time.
Curiously for many of us, he said he plans to go back to his place of work as a “general worker”, presumably doing manual labour of some kind so that no one figures out he’s now stinking rich.
He says it’s a dangerous world out there, and he’s not wrong.
I might even do the same thing myself for a short while if I ever won so much money – just to let the reality of all that wealth sink in. But, then again, I’d probably just disappear immediately to a beach somewhere and stay there.
I can only imagine our lucky winner rocking up at a warehouse in a Cape Town industrial zone today to move boxes on to a delivery truck, knowing that – if he wanted to – he could buy the whole company whose box he’s lifting.
It’s hard to imagine such a situation lasting for long, especially if the warehouse manager yells at our secret millionaire to pick up his pace. South Africa’s luckiest man is likely to just give that box a drop kick and go for a seven-course lunch at the One & Only before a spot of shopping at the Ferrari dealership.
I actually think his big secret is out now anyway. By now anyone who knows this guy reasonably well must surely know what happened – because although eNCA went to much effort to hide the winner’s face, they seemed to do nothing at all to disguise his voice.
Take a look for yourself.
[ON AIR] A 50-year old Cape Town man is the envy of all South Africans.
He's the winner of a record R232-million Powerball jackpot. @LindokuhlXulu1 is with the lucky gambler, who wants to remain anonymous. #eNCANow Courtesy #DStv403 pic.twitter.com/7iqB00srlv
— eNCA (@eNCA) February 26, 2019
A voice is a bit like a fingerprint, unique to its owner, as anyone who’s ever designed a bit of voice-recognition software will tell you.
And think of anyone you know reasonably well. You can recognise their voice in seconds, even in a crowd. Before the days of caller ID, someone close to you could ring you up on a landline and say, “Hey, it’s me,” and it would almost always suffice.
So I was picturing Letitia or Shannon and her friends watching TV yesterday, or looking at the Twitter video above, and saying, “Jinne! Maar is dit nie Joseph se stem daar nie!” (No way! Isn’t that Joseph’s voice there?)
Unless this guy was actually gifted at disguising his voice and just pretending to be a coloured man from the Cape (and in that case, he should have been a voiceover artist or a comedian, not a general worker struggling to put food on the table), then today he’s been getting a lot of phone calls and visits from people asking him where he was yesterday (and if he could spare a million or two for bread).
“Joseph, was jy nie in die Joburg nie, my broe?”
Clearly, I wouldn’t mind having this guy’s problems.
But “anonymity” for “Joseph”? Not so much. Not any more.
I only hope he doesn’t become part of the global stats of more than two-thirds of lottery winners who go broke within five years.