Lebanon came to a standstill on Monday night as the biggest lottery in the nation’s history was finally decided. No-one had won the top prize since the beginning of the year and lottery fever had gripped the country, with people buying tickets to the last minute.

The jackpot ballooned to 6,306,619,438 Lebanese pounds, the equivalent of just over $4m. The surprise on the live television announcement was that there was not one winner but three. Dizzying amount  Even construction sites in Beirut had fallen silent as workers paused clutching their lottery tickets and hoping. Thousands were dreaming about the dizzying amount of money that could change their lives in these dire economic times.

For weeks people forgot about the political upheaval in Lebanon, the bickering between politicians and the tense security situation, all pinning their hopes on the small, coloured, numbered balls. And then, the big surprise. For weeks no-one had hit the jackpot, but this time three people selected all six winning numbers. Even the presenter could not believe it as she repeated the results again and again.

The last big jackpot was just over $3m and was won in 2003.

This time even people who had never bought a lottery ticket joined the race.