Whenever the Melbourne Cup Carnival rolls around a few complicated stories flood our news feeds.
But in between the “Photos of very, very drunk Ladies at Caulfield”, “Dress disaster as Celeb X wears EXACT SAME OUTFIT as Celeb Y” and “Take a look at the WORST dressed at the Melbourne Cup” stories, there’s another one – a story that pops up like clockwork – that goes unnoticed. It’s the most damaging of them all.
“Fairytale as tradie scoops up $1 million from lucky bet.”
We saw this precise story surface yesterday, documenting how ‘Dominic from Mill Park’ went from humble Aussie bloke to overnight millionaire, all from a $5 punt.
“It was so surreal. I started the day working, concreting for a mate, so I never could have imagined this,” Dominic told Seven West Media.
“I was just numb towards the end of the race. I’m still in shock. A couple of my mates even broke into tears.”
Dominic’s is the insane, joyful, dream-like story we tell our families and friends about. The they-bet-17-bucks-and-now-they’re-a-freaking-millionaire narratives that make us think maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll turn a tenner into a cushiony debt-free life, or a year-long European holiday.
We know winning big is minuscule, but the prospect of maybe is so goddamn titillating we humour it anyway.
Stories of freakish luck are now the punctuation on every big sporting event. For the AFL Grand Final, it was the guy who took home $50,000 from two $10 punts. The Australian Open was capped off by the dude who raked in $86,850 from his multi.
“Buy that man a beer!” the opening lines of each story read, only to be liked and clicked on and read by thousands of Australians.
As chuffed as we can feel for these punters, who walked away from the racecourses and footy grounds and tennis courts with big fat grins and even fatter wallets, here are the stats we don’t hear enough about:
Australians wagered $657 million over the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2016 – a number that Racing Victoria predicted would climb steadily in 2017, with considerable jumps in mobile app usage.