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Friday December 28, 2012

Some Spaniards have all the luck

As I shopped in my local town last week everyone talked of only one thing: El Gordo, the Fat One, the world’s biggest lottery. When I mentioned to a shopkeeper that no, I hadn’t bought a ticket for the annual Christmas draw taking place on Saturday 22, December, her mouth fell open like a fish in distress. Why ever not? Didn’t I want to be a millionaire?

In truth I really wouldn’t mind scooping the €4 million jackpot in El Gordo or any other lottery for that matter but let’s face it, my chances of victory would be as likely as my winning the New York Marathon blindfolded with one leg strapped up and a rotund albatross clinging to my back. I know the argument. Someone’s got to win a slither of that £2 billion jackpot, so why not me? Well as someone who habitually fails to win even a packet of wine gums in the simplest of competitions, raffle or tombola, I can think of every reason in the book why it shouldn’t be me.
Besides, I’m bone idle. As locals enthusiastically handed over €20 notes to one of the ticket vendors in Soller’s plaça, I held back, apathetically reasoning that if I were going to succumb I could do so much nearer the time of the event. As it happened I totally forgot about it and now the opportunity has passed.

Despite my cynicism, I have to admit to knowing two people here in my rural town who have won El Gordo. A friend together with every resident of her street who’d bought décimos, shares, in a winning lottery number, won €40,000 each. Another local who probably has no idea that I’m in the know, apparently won €300,000 a few years ago. He works hard and keeps a low profile, cannily never betraying any evidence of his good fortune.

By contrast last year the inhabitants of Sodeto, a small village in northern Spain, had no choice but to come clean about their El Gordo success given that every resident bar one had a windfall of between €100,000 and €1 million. Costas Mitsotakis, the unfortunate 43 year-old Greek filmmaker who had failed to buy a ticket, watched as villagers whooped for joy and celebrated their joint victory. It’s heartening to learn that one year on, all the winners of Sodeto remain grounded and continue to live and work without tacky demonstrations of their new found wealth. Most have awarded themselves practical treats befitting their rural idyll-new tractors, home upgrades and the purchase of land. As for poor old Mitsotakis, at least he’s capitalised on his neighbours’ success by making a film about their extraordinary joint win, the first of its kind in El Gordo’s 200-year-old history.

My Majorcan neighbour told me that despite not winning El Gordo on Saturday he had high hopes of scoring in the El Niño lottery which would be drawn on 6, January. He gave me a hearty slap on the back. Come on, why didn’t I give it a go this year? I told him that I most certainly would, providing he’d guarantee a win, of course.

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