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Entire town, except one guy, wins $950M lottery

El GordoEl Gordo: Entire town, except one guy, wins $950M lottery
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SODETO, Spain — Just a few weeks ago, the 70 households in the isolated farming village of Sodeto were struggling under the double whammy of Spain's economic downturn and the ravages of a severe drought.

Some were even thinking of passing up Spain's huge Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo — the fat one — which is something of a national obsession. But they bought tickets out of loyalty to the homemakers' association here, which makes a small percentage on the sales.

And then, their number came in.

All but one household in Sodeto held at least a piece of a winning ticket in the lottery's huge first prize, $950 million, the biggest ever.

Some of Sodeto's residents, mostly farmers and unemployed construction workers, won millions. The least fortunate came away with a minimum of $130,000 — and the giddy feeling that life, in its mysterious ways, was giving them another chance.

It is one of the rare bits of happy news amid the relentlessly gloomy European economic crisis, in which Spain has been one of the hardest of the hard-luck cases. But it has not come without its own cost: the village, until now just a dot on the map about three hours northwest of Barcelona, has been inundated with salespeople and fortune seekers ever since.

On a recent morning, the vendors just kept showing up: bankers in suits offering high interest rates, car salesmen talking up BMWs and furniture dealers going door to door.

Like many other local farmers, José Manuel Penella Cambra, who had recently invested in more efficient irrigation techniques, worried about how he would meet his payments. But his wife bought two tickets, worth $260,000, and his son found two more she had bought earlier and had forgotten about, bringing the total to $520,000.

"I kept saying: look for some more, look for some more," he joked in the village cafe, a shabby establishment with a few Formica tables and a ripped black leatherette sofa. "But this money means that now we can breathe. And the best part is that it isn't just me. Everybody won."

The day of the lottery announcement was collective madness, the residents said, as they realized how many of their neighbors had won, too.

As news spread, the farmers raced into town on their tractors. The mayor, Rosa Pons, used a megaphone to congratulate everyone. Anica Bordei, the cafe manager, ran into the street with her socks on, even though they had holes in the toes. In what seemed like 20 minutes, the bankers were on hand to collect the tickets and then the local news media showed up.

"Some of the ladies talked about going to the hairdresser," Mayor Pons said. "But the hairdresser won, too. And she said, 'I'm not working today.' So that ended that."

The lottery, first established in 1812, is a huge event in Spain. Many people take the morning off to watch the televised coverage of the numbers being drawn from a gilded spinning cage. Spain's lottery works differently from those in the United States. This year there were 1,800 first-prize-winning tickets with the same number, 58268, each paying $520,000. As the tickets cost $26 each, they are often broken down into $6.50 "participations."

The Sodeto homemakers' association sells the tickets every year and usually nets about $1,300, which it uses to pay for food and decorations during local festivals. (It gets a small percentage of every ticket sold.) This year the tickets the women sold, here and in visits to 17 neighboring villages, brought in more than $150 million in winnings.

Even now, the residents of Sodeto are prone to giggling when they retell the stories of where they were when they heard, and how they almost did not buy any tickets, or how someone's grandmother had a secret stash of tickets tucked away in her purse.

But selling the tickets was difficult this year. Even the cheapest "participations" were expensive for some.

At one point, Mari Carmen Lambea, a member of the homemakers' association, tried to sell a ticket to a friend whose husband was unemployed. But her friend could only promise to pay her later. When the number was called, the friend still had not paid. But Ms. Lambea had saved the ticket for her anyway.

"She was afraid to call me and ask," Ms. Lambea said. "So her son called my son and asked him whether I had really saved the ticket, and I said, 'Of course, I did.' And then there was a lot of crying."

So far, though, no one has splurged on anything much, Mayor Pons said.

"Are you going to see Mercedes going up and down our streets?" she said. "I don't think so. People are going to invest in the fields and maybe a sofa."

The mayor said that most residents of the village — a planned community built in the 1960s as part of the government's ambitious efforts to improve agricultural production by cultivating unused, often arid land — were hoping that things could get back to normal soon. It used to be a place where every door was unlocked. But no more.

As Ms. Lambea headed home from the cafe recently, she spotted the familiar car of a particularly determined banker. "Oh no," she said, ducking out of his line of sight. "I'm turning off my phone."

Some like Mr. Penella, the farmer, hope that the money will help keep the next generation, in particular his son, in the village. In the 1960s, Sodeto had 400 residents. But nowadays, only 250 people live here. Young people have moved on.

The only resident who did not win was Costis Mitsotakis, a Greek filmmaker, who moved to the village for love of a woman. It did not work out. But he still lives here in a barn he is restoring about half a mile outside the village. Somehow, the homemakers had overlooked him this year as they made the rounds.

Mr. Mitsotakis said it would have been nice to win. But he has benefited nonetheless. He had been trying to sell some land without much success. The day after the lottery a neighbor called to say he would buy it. The next day another neighbor called. But Mr. Mitsotakis refused to get into a bidding war.

"This is a small village," he said. "You don't want bad feelings."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

NY Times

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30 comments. Last comment 5 years ago by GYM RICE.
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time*treat's avatar - radar

United States
Member #13130
March 30, 2005
2171 Posts
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Posted: February 2, 2012, 5:24 pm - IP Logged

"Are you going to see Mercedes going up and down our streets?" she said. "I don't think so. People are going to invest in the fields and maybe a sofa."

Smart folks; not much new land being made. Thumbs Up

In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

    Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
    S.E.Iowa
    United States
    Member #120504
    December 21, 2011
    534 Posts
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    Posted: February 2, 2012, 5:28 pm - IP Logged

    "Are you going to see Mercedes going up and down our streets?" she said. "I don't think so. People are going to invest in the fields and maybe a sofa."

    Smart folks; not much new land being made. Thumbs Up

    One woman speaking for everyone.

    I think you'll see more than one Mercedes.People are people the world over.And people want nice things that they couldn't previously afford.

    When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

    There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers

      Avatar
      Orlando, FL
      United States
      Member #115785
      August 28, 2011
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      Posted: February 2, 2012, 6:26 pm - IP Logged

      Dunk

        Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
        Zeta Reticuli Star System
        United States
        Member #30470
        January 17, 2006
        10344 Posts
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        Posted: February 2, 2012, 6:40 pm - IP Logged

        Esta jodio tipo!

        Scared

        Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

        Lep

        There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

          maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
          Massachusetts
          United States
          Member #37433
          April 14, 2006
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          Posted: February 2, 2012, 7:16 pm - IP Logged

          A whole village minus one person won? omg! now thats what I call a true bailout, well except for the ninja who decided to not join in. 

          Its bad enough when there's an office pool and a dozen people hit a jp and one person decides not to play; here we're talking of a whole village!

          No amount of therapy could ever cure the nightmare and regret of that loner, none. SAD.

          That money's gone fo ever

            psykomo's avatar - animal shark.jpg

            United States
            Member #4877
            May 30, 2004
            5114 Posts
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            Posted: February 2, 2012, 8:16 pm - IP Logged

            "Are you going to see Mercedes going up and down our streets?" she said. "I don't think so. People are going to invest in the fields and maybe a sofa."

            Smart folks; not much new land being made. Thumbs Up

            L@@K'ssssssssssLIKE>>>>>>>>>>>these SOCIALIST!!!!!!!!

            turned>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>CAPITALI$T>>>>White Bounce

            invest in fields>>>that's>>>HARD>WORK^^^^^^^^^!!!!!!!!!!

            CONGRAT'$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!

            2>>>>>>ALL these WONDERFUL>>>>>^^^^^PEOPLE !!!!!!!!

              PartyWhite BouncePartyWhite BounceWhite BouncePartyWhite BounceParty

            Jack-in-the-Box

              Avatar
              Monkey Butt, USA
              United States
              Member #54569
              August 23, 2007
              1124 Posts
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              Posted: February 2, 2012, 9:55 pm - IP Logged

              A whole village minus one person won? omg! now thats what I call a true bailout, well except for the ninja who decided to not join in. 

              Its bad enough when there's an office pool and a dozen people hit a jp and one person decides not to play; here we're talking of a whole village!

              No amount of therapy could ever cure the nightmare and regret of that loner, none. SAD.

              The only resident who did not win was Costis Mitsotakis, a Greek filmmaker, who moved to the village for love of a woman. It did not work out. But he still lives here in a barn he is restoring about half a mile outside the village. Somehow, the homemakers had overlooked him this year as they made the rounds.

              Mr. Mitsotakis said it would have been nice to win. But he has benefited nonetheless. He had been trying to sell some land without much success. The day after the lottery a neighbor called to say he would buy it. The next day another neighbor called. But Mr. Mitsotakis refused to get into a bidding war.

              "This is a small village," he said. "You don't want bad feelings."

                rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
                United States
                Member #73904
                April 28, 2009
                14903 Posts
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                Posted: February 2, 2012, 11:32 pm - IP Logged

                God bless Maria Carmen Lambea for saving that ticket for her friend even though she didn't have the money to pay.
                The world needs more people like her.


                                                             
                                     
                                                         

                 

                 

                 

                 

                                                                                                                   

                "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                            --Edmund Burke

                 

                 

                  rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                  Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
                  United States
                  Member #73904
                  April 28, 2009
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                  Posted: February 2, 2012, 11:57 pm - IP Logged

                  That Greek guy oughta open up a Gyros Stand.
                  All them people got money now, he'd make a fortune.


                                                               
                                       
                                                           

                   

                   

                   

                   

                                                                                                                     

                  "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                              --Edmund Burke

                   

                   

                    RedStang's avatar - tallman zps6gf4inoc.jpg
                    NY
                    United States
                    Member #121961
                    January 21, 2012
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                    Posted: February 3, 2012, 1:06 am - IP Logged

                    We need this.1800 first prize winners is awesome. There was a drawing 2 yrs ago that had 1950 first prize winners.

                      OldSchoolPa's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
                      Gurnee, Illinois
                      United States
                      Member #49731
                      February 12, 2007
                      917 Posts
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                      Posted: February 3, 2012, 8:55 am - IP Logged

                      We need this.1800 first prize winners is awesome. There was a drawing 2 yrs ago that had 1950 first prize winners.

                      Oh no we don't! That is so socialist! If Powerball worked that way, then if the jackpot was hit this Saturday, the winners would only gross 75,000 before taxes! Definitely no where near a life-changing sum of money.  So let Spain have their El Gordo and let Powerball and Mega Millions be PB and Mega Millions respectively. I am sure those in the "stay anonymous" crowd would agree with my sentiments, as the evidence of the sharks, leeches, and parasites coming out of the woodwork and descending on this town is justification enough to NOT want that here.

                      Get MONEY!!! Winning a JACKPOT lottery is all the HOPE and CHANGE I desire!!!  NOW give me MONEY!US Flag

                      The guy who won the presidency in 2008 really won the lottery...he is now millions richer, travels in first class style, and even has a staff that would be the envy of the richest Powerball winner (she has a staff of 2). Every night he goes to sleep, he probably plays the close of Dave Chappelle's Show: I'm rich beyatch!

                        sully16's avatar - sharan
                        Ringleader
                        Michigan
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                        October 28, 2009
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                        Posted: February 3, 2012, 10:16 am - IP Logged

                        Congrats to the lucky winners, cool story.

                        Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

                        For a lead role in a cage?

                         

                                                                    From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

                          time*treat's avatar - radar

                          United States
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                          March 30, 2005
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                          Posted: February 3, 2012, 12:23 pm - IP Logged

                          As Ms. Lambea headed home from the cafe recently, she spotted the familiar car of a particularly determined banker. "Oh no," she said, ducking out of his line of sight. "I'm turning off my phone."

                          After what they have put that part of the world through, one wonders how banksters can even walk down the streets safely.

                          In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
                          Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

                            ressuccess's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg

                            United States
                            Member #93164
                            June 23, 2010
                            1313 Posts
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                            Posted: February 3, 2012, 12:33 pm - IP Logged

                            Congratulations to this winning ticket.