LADY Luck shined on the town of Capdepera, in the north of the island yesterday, with hundreds of people winning an estimated 30 million euros after having a share of the first prize winning ticket, number 42.473. The winning tickets were sold at the local lottery shop... and there were literally hundreds of winners. The majority of the winning tickets had been bought by the Capdepera school's Parents Association to finance a school trip to Paris. After yesterday's win they will all be travelling first class! Members of the Capdepera police were also laughing all the way to the bank, as they too were winners. Also looking forward to a great Christmas is the local minister for tourism, Joan Flaquer, who is from Capdepera and who won an estimated 18'000 euros. The first prize or El Gordo, was shared between Capdepera, Ronda, Valencia, Casa Ibanez, Coruña, Sort, San Sebastian, Valencia and Masamagrell. The win yesterday certainly brought some Christmas cheer to Capdepera and it is the second time in eight years that the first prize has been won in Majorca. In 1995 the first prize was won in total in Coll den Rebassa with residents sharing an estimated 182 million pounds. This time the prize was shared with other parts of the mainland but no-one appeared to be complaining yesterday in Capdepera. Brothers Antonio and Domingo Chaparro, were photographed holding a copy of the winning ticket in front of the Lottery Office where they had made the purchase. For Antonio, who used to work as a waiter, the 200'000 euros which he has won will allow him to celebrate a really good wedding next May with his German fiancée, Sabine Staegmeir, who chose the winning number. His brother, Domingo, who considered himself to be a very lucky person, had bought four lottery tickets along with friends and neighbours.
Domingo said he nearly won the Gordo last year but one number was out of sequence. He said that on this occasion, he chose the number 42'473 because it ended in the number 3, the day when his little daughter was born. A 60-year-old woman from Ecuador, Natalia Zambrano, was clear that she is going to share the money from her winning ticket with her relatives who are very poor and above all, with her daughter and grandson who is just a few months old. The manager who sold the Gordo, Joan Vicense Lliteres, who also shares a winning ticket with a group of friends, had until now, never had to share out prize money from a Christmas Lottery draw. Crowds of prize winners, together with many who hadn't been so lucky, toasted their good fortune with sparkling cava outside Lliteres' premises.
Apart from the winners in Capdepera a group of employees from IBASAN, the Balearic Sewage treatment company, were also celebrating. One of them had been lucky enough to purchase a lottery ticket in Sort, on the mainland, which also scooped a share of the first prize. El Gordo is the world's richest lottery and yesterday it spread about two billion euros in winnings.
Spaniards spent the morning glued to television sets and radios for the latest edition of a sweepstakes that goes back to 1812 and marks the official start of Spain's holiday season. For three hours, school children picked small, wooden balls out of two golden tumblers one for 5digit lottery numbers and another for the corresponding prize. The lottery uses a complex system of shared numbers that shuns winnertakesall jackpots and instead brings wealth to millions of people holding numbers that go from 00001 to 66'000. Complicating matters further, each of those 66'000 numbers is repeated 1'900 times. People often team up to buy tickets costing 20 euros each, so windfalls trickle through towns, offices, sports clubs and bars. Tens of thousands win something from 100 euros to 200'000 euros on a single ticket. This year's firstprize number, 42473 had 1'900 tickets worth a total 450 million euros. Sixhundred firstprize winners were sold in a village in Catalonia called Sort, which means luck in the northeast region's language. Many people trek there to buy tickets, making its lone lottery outlet nicknamed The Golden Witch, Spain's busiest at Christmas. Manager Xavier Gabriel said he'd sold winning tickets worth millions of euros in winnings. The Golden Witch has behaved well, to say the least, he told the national news agency Efe. Another lucky place yesterday was the eastern beach town of Santa Pola. Lottery office manager Raul Robles was already celebrating having sold fourthprize tickets worth a total of 200'000 euros when he learned he'd also sold secondprize coupons bearing the number 24635 worth 200 million euros. My heart is racing. My legs are shaking, Robles told Efe. Threequarters of the country's 40 million people take part in El Gordo, officials say.
Across the winning areas in Spain last night there was a party-like atmosphere. El Gordo has spread its Christmas cheer once again.