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Hong Kong Just Auctioned Off a License Plate for $2.3 Million

It bears the lucky number “28,” which in Cantonese sounds like the words “easy” and “to prosper.”
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Flickr/Oleg

If money could buy you luck, then the luckiest person in Hong Kong right now should be the bidder who recently paid 18.1 million Hong Kong dollars, or $2.3 million in U.S. money, for an “auspicious” license plate bearing the number 28. That sounds like a wildly exorbitant amount of money (and it is), but the thinking is rather simple. In Cantonese, “28” sounds similar to the words for “easy” and “to prosper,” so the number is thought to bring good fortune to its owner.

Generally speaking, the Chinese get pretty superstitious when it comes to license plates. Number combinations that include 6, 8, or 9—which typically create homophones for phrases associated with getting, and staying, rich—are considered lucky. Sometimes the numbers can end up costing far more than the vehicles they identify. Since Hong Kong began license-plate auctioning in 1973, the numbers 18 and 9 sold for $2.1 million and $1.7 million, respectively.