Truong Vu Dung makes his living from being lucky.
The 36-year-old resident of the Mekong Delta’s Tra Vinh Province said that he has made more than US$100,000 by seriously investing in promotional sweepstakes (or "lucky draws," as they're known) for the past 14 years.
His biggest win was a car given away by a shampoo brand, he told Tuoi Tre newspaper.
The sweepstakes worked like this: buy a bottle of shampoo and text the code on package to the organizer’s phone number for a chance to win a car worth more than VND1.5 billion (US$70,400).
Dung spent more than VND300 million buying nearly 10,000 shampoo bottles from distributors across the delta.
He made an agreement with local retailers that after he had the codes, he would resell the bottles to them at VND25,000 apiece, 16-23 percent lower than official price.
After three months of the promotion, he resold the bottles at a VND60 million loss, but he won the car and 42 cell phones.
“You have to be willing to take a risk and know the laws of statistics, the general tricks and rules of promotions,” Dung advised aspiring sweepstake sharks.
“Most promotions do not limit participation to a single customer, so you can buy a lot of products at a time. Using that method, you’ll win for sure.”
Given his serious investment and his significant gains, Dung says playing lucky draws a full-time job, one that came to him by chance.
After graduating from a teacher's college, Dung couldn't find an opening at a school, so he applied to work as a postman.
In the course of his work, Dung read stories in the paper about the winners of various sweepstakes.
He decided to enter his first lucky draw (run by a dairy company) in 2000 and sent multiple entries in to the organizer.
Dung won the second prize, a trip to Thailand. Since didn't have time for the trip, he took VND8.4 million in cash, instead.
Soon after his first win, he quit his job as a postman and dedicate himself, full-time, to the numbers.
Early this year, he traveled to different provinces to gather more than 800 bottle caps with promotional codes.
Four days before the draw, he went to a soft drink wholesaler in Tra Vinh and spent nearly VND20 million on 12,000 bottles--just for their caps.
“I just took the caps, the wholesaler kept the drink,” he said, noting that he'd bought a week's worth of free drinks for the whole neighborhood.
Dung won more than ten motorbikes and cell phones.
“I’ve made a profit in every sweepstakes I've entered,” he said adding that those winnings have ranged from $1,000 to $50,000.
He's got the news clippings to prove it.
After each win, Dung sold all the prizes for cash, which he squirreled away in the bank.
He lives on interest and the returns on a few investments.
His house in the provincial capitol (also Tra Vinh) is loaded with gifts of lesser value such as motorbike helmets and T-shirts.
Dung said those items have been on sale for months but few people want them.
He said he will give them away, eventually. In the meantime, Dung has given plenty back.
Nguyen Van Khiem, deputy director of Tra Vinh’s department of social affairs, said Dung bought books books and provided scholarships to good students in the province for years.
Dinh Thi Thanh Tuyen, a teacher at An Thoi Secondary School in Dung’s hometown province Ben Tre, also in the delta, said that for over a decade Dung has gone to see the principal at the end of every school year to request a list of poor and talented students.
Dung used to attend the school as a boy.
His parents divorced when he was a child, the oldest of four siblings.
The split forced Dung into work early; he says he ate a vegetarian diet for 18 years, partly to cut costs.
The lucky draws, he says, have changed his life for the better and given him the chance to help others.