(SNN) - When Daisy Mayflower matched three boot symbols on a lottery scratchcard, she thought she might get a little money or perhaps a shoe store voucher. However, after ringing the claims hotline, she was astonished to discover that she had actually won Italy. So-called "country dumping" is becoming increasingly popular with cash-strapped governments aiming to rid themselves of their struggling economies. Experts predict that we will see only more small- to medium-sized states being disposed of in this way.
Meanwhile, the Italian Prime Minister is said to be overjoyed by news of Miss Mayflower's win and promised national cooperation when the transfer of ownership takes place. But Miss Mayflower, a single mother from London, will have to cope with an eye-watering 2 trillion Euros (2.7 trillion US dollars) of national debt - a figure that may have her reaching for the anti-histamines. "Certainly, I'll have to make some savings," she confessed. "Fewer presents for the kids at Christmas. Turning the heating down in the house during winter. And defaulting on the loan I used to buy the Democratic Republic of Congo."
In fact, it has emerged that Italy is the third nation that will come under Miss Mayflower's jurisdiction since she first picked up Finland at a local charity auction in 2008. Critics say she is playing Risk with the planet but Miss Mayflower is undeterred and is already planning some cosmetic changes to her latest acquisition. "I've looked at a map of Italy and I think I'd prefer something with a flatter heel," she announced, referring to the country's distinctive outline. "So my plan is to submerge about a quarter of the Apulian peninsula. Too long has the shape of Italy promoted unsuitable footwear and if the flooding of 5000 square kilometres means that one less person has to endure a minor podiatry problem, then it will have been worth it.
However, Miss Mayflower would do well to learn lessons from other scratchcard winners, who have had similar benevolent intentions. One example is that of a certain Colonel Sanders, who failed to make Turkey more turkey-shaped and was eventually overthrown in an army coop. After being tried and found guilty by a military court, he was hung, drawn, quartered, dipped in batter, and sold by a Kentucky fast food chain as poetic justice.
Despite such horror stories, Miss Mayflower is determined to push through her plans. "I'm only taking a bit off the heel," she said. "I can't understand why anyone would have a problem. It's not like I'm trying to reshape Italy into a flip flop!"
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