El Gordo Christmas Lottery

February 3, 2012 by staff 

El Gordo Christmas Lottery, Costis Mitsotakis, the only inhabitant of Sodeto who did not buy a share of the lottery’s winning number, at his home. 
One unfortunate man has good reason to curse his bad fortune after he was the only person in a Spanish village to lose out on a recent lottery windfall.

Only a few weeks ago, the 70 households in the isolated farming village of Sodeto were struggling amid Spain’s economic downturn and the ravages of a severe drought.

However, villagers still bought lottery tickets out of loyalty to the homemakers’ association, which makes a small percentage on the sales in Spain’s huge Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo – the fat one, and something of a national obsession.

The Christmas 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.

Recently, fortune came to favour (almost) all in Sodeto, about three hours northwest of Barcelona, when its residents found themselves with at least a piece of a winning ticket in the first prize of $950 million (€721 million) – the biggest ever.

Some of Sodeto’s residents, mostly farmers and unemployed construction workers, won millions, while the least fortunate came away with a minimum of $130,000.

The only resident who did not win was Costis Mitsotakis. The Greek filmmaker, who is restoring a barn about half a mile outside the village, was somehow overlooked by locals this year as they made the rounds.

Mr Mitsotakis said it would have been nice to win – although he may benefit nonetheless.

He had been trying to sell some land without success, but the day after the lottery win a neighbour called to say he would buy it; the next day another neighbour called.

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