What would you do with a million dollars? There are a lot of answers to this question, but
probably no one would say they would tear the money into paper mache and turn it into a statue.
Interestingly enough, that is exactly what happened to create a one-of-a-kind statue of Hotei, an
ancient Buddhist figure said to bring good fortune. It is said that anyone who rubs Hotei’s belly
and makes a wish will be blessed with extremely good luck.
The jolly, even-natured Buddha was once a real person who ate, slept, and walked around like
the rest of us. Legend says Hotei was often found carrying a cloth sack full of food and treasures
which he handed to everyone in need. In life, he was a monk and a hermit, but according to
belief, he is still out there looking out for anyone who seeks his help.
It’s no small surprise that when the American government tossed more than $1,000,000 worth of
old, unusable dollar bills, someone was there to pick it up and turn it into a statue of this giving
person. Statues of Hotei can be found in nearly any Chinese restaurant, but only one of them
stands out quite as much as this one. Luckily, it’s easy to track down.
The one-million-dollar statue of Hotei can be found on the second floor of the Ripley’s Believe It
or Not! Museum in Times Square, New York. Guests are invited, even encouraged to rub the
statue’s belly and make a wish.
As the sign says, “this may be your only chance to get your hands on a million dollars.” Punny as
that is, one would hope that making the trip to New York City to touch the statue in the first
place might turn the tables a little bit.
Barring a trip to New York, there is always the friendly neighborhood Hotei statue. Hotei is
recognizable through his plump figure and laughing pose. Statues of Hotei are often found in
stores and restaurants owned by people following Buddhist or Taoist traditions. This means east
Asia including China, Thailand, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. Statues of Hotei are
often called Buddha statues or the laughing Buddha. Chances are if the statue is laughing, it is
Hotei, as other Buddhist figures tend to have a more serious demeanor.
Wherever Hotei is ultimately found, remember to rub his belly and make a wish. If the sayings
are true, a new wave of good luck is sure to come.
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