Andalucia Strikes it Rich!

The big news this week is that someone - some lucky someone, or perhaps more than one someone - from the tiny town of Montefrio, Granada, has won the "Euromillones" lottery. At over 76 million euros, this is the biggest, fattest lottery prize yet to land on a Spanish town. A town, you ask? Yes, a town, because a lottery prize in Spain is seen as a sort of common good. This is very difficult for outsiders to grasp, especially the most individualistic among us - mainly from northern Europe and North America. But would you believe that yesterday I heard the mayoress of Montefrí­o interviewed on public radio, unashamedly suggesting that it would be nice if the winner invested in his or her home town? It was clear as the conversation progressed and follow up reports were made, that both the town's leader and the reporter who interviewed her saw investment in Montefrio as not only a logical outcome, but practically a birthright. Everyone - and it sounds like EVERYONE - in Montefrio is keeping an eye out for signs of a winner. No one is daring to schedule a holiday, says the mayoress - for fear of being a suspect. Woe to the one who stays home from work with a cold. The entire town could turn up to confirm the diagnosis. Yes, the winner in Montefrio is laying low and probably with very good reason. Should he or she (or they) be found out, there would be no end to the hoopla this would create in a tiny town like Montefrio where everyone knows everyone... and no end to the expectations from old friends and even old, old, old friends? Those of you who know the Andalusian way of purchasing lottery tickets in groups will know something about this group winner mentality. When the big prize monies are announced at Christmas there is always the hope that they will be "muy repartidos" (shared among many). And it would be unthinkable to keep a lottery winning for oneself without spreading the wealth far and wide among the family network. So what would happen if the Montefrio winner were discovered and it so happened that this person didn't feel the town was fit for investment? What if he or she preferred to spend it all in the Bahamas? Good question. As it stands, whoever bought that winning ticket is staying well out of the picture. A savings bank in Granada was entrusted with the job of receiving the prize money on behalf of the recipient and, according to the legend so far, the lucky man or woman is handling the news in a sensible manner and has all the professional help necessary for managing the winnings, thank you very much. Congratulations Montefrio... or not.
Blog published on 15 February 2008