I love this lottery.
It’s the mother of all lotteries, having started in 1812.
El Gordo, the fat one, handed out more than $3 billion in prizes this past week, and what’s really cool is the lottery does not hand out on mega winning ticket and then much smaller ones after that. No, everyone seems to share in the prize.
This past Wednesday, handing out winnings was eagerly welcomed by a nation facing 20% unemployment.
One of the most awaited days of the year in Spain served up merry moments for people struggling to make mortgage payments and pay bills, or those seeking jobs. One lottery vendor said he had hired a medium to lure good luck.
Well, I’d try anything too.
The government-run lottery billed as the world’s richest has no single jackpot but operates a complex share-the-wealth system in which thousands of five-digit numbers from 00000 to 84999 win something. It is known as “El Gordo” (The Fat One) and dates back to 1812.
Tax-free winnings range from the face value of a 20-euro ($26.31) ticket ” in other words, you get your money back ” to a top prize of 300,000 euros ($394,650).
The sweepstakes, which goes on for three hours, informally ushers in the Christmas season.
Many Spaniards spend the day glued to TV sets, radios and computers, waiting to see if they are among the lucky. People often team up to buy shares of tickets sold by bars, sports clubs and business offices.
So would I.
In a town called Alcorcon, just outside Madrid, lottery office manager Augustin Rubia said he hired a medium to cast a magic spell over his outlet, and set up altars outside with religious statues, candles and tarot cards, and it worked: he sold 10 top-prize tickets to the tune of 3 million euros.
“The idea was to lure positive energy,” Rubia told reporters, adding that all the winners are working-class people.
Later that night, I texted my friend in Madrid, who was supposed to buy me $10 worth of tickets.
He did. He said. Oh well,
Better luck next year.