Wang Lei is one of the most sought after Getai Chinese singers and hosts in Singapore.
Starting from humble beginnings as a salesman of various goods, his rise to fame came when his friend jokingly entered him in a singing contest, where he surprisingly won second place. A show organizer noticed him and introduced him to more shows and gigs.
He is a hardworking performer, who once performed a record 147 shows in a single month. Eventually, he became a household name, charging as much as $100 for three songs, and $1,500 for a hosting stint.
However, behind the limelight, Wang Lei has a severe gambling addiction. It was something that plagued him ever since he was a teen, and before he got famous. Whenever he receives any amount of money, the “itch” will come in, and he’ll gamble it away on anything from slots (like those at 918kiss) to poker.
A school dropout, he started work as a salesman on just $20 a day. With whatever meager salary he earned, however, most of it went to gambling.
His most significant loss during that time was the money he got from selling his four-bedroom flat. The funds were supposed to go into starting over and supporting his wife and three kids. He lost it over three days.
The amount? A staggering $230,000.
It got so bad that loan sharks started harassing them at home, throwing paint on their front door. His wife, Florence Cheng, had to support the family when Wang as unable to because he was broke. She made do even with her meager $800 per month salary.
Even when he rose to fame in the early 2000s, his gambling addiction didn’t stop. He vowed to quit many times, but he ended up going back days later.
He did finally managed to quit in 2014, and it took the death of a colleague to mend his ways finally.
That colleague in question was John Cheng, a close friend who always went with him gambling. Cheng had the same gambling problem as Wang Lei. Hence, at the time of his death, very little money was left for his family.
It made Wang Lei question his ways. He didn’t want to do the same to his family. So he finally resolved to end his addiction.
He rounded up the 11 loan sharks he owed money to over the years and haggled a more reasonable payment plan. Instead of paying $10,000 in interest fees monthly, he negotiated it down to around $500. Most agreed although some rejected the deal.
To help repay his debts, he also borrowed $20,000 from his show organizer boss as advance salary.
And it worked. Just two years later, Wang Lei was finally free of debt.
Now, he devotes most of his time and money to his family. He says it’s to make up for the many times he wasn’t there for them during his gambling days.
His advice to people? “Don’t gamble your life, your family, and your happiness away.”