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[to have an unusual, unexpected and often bad result]
- Só deu zebra nos jogos do Brasileirão.
- There were only unexpected results in the ‘Brasileirão’ games.
This strange expression is believed to come from the jogo do bicho – (lit.) game of the animal – an illegal kind of lottery, with numbers and 25 different animals. The zebra is not one of the animals, so this result would be really surprising and unexpected.
The expression became very popular when the football results for the official lottery used to be announced by a cute little zebra character on the TV programme Fantástico. It is very commonly used to describe surprising results in all kinds of sports, games and competitions, but it can also be used in any situation where the outcome is unusual or unexpected.