WHEN Spain’s high-speed rail service first connected Madrid Atocha train station to rest of the nation, lottery vendor Javier Garcia saw an opportunity for business.
In 1996 he opened one of Spain’s 4,100 lottery administraciones right where the doors of the AVE open for some 40,000 daily travellers passing through Madrid’s busiest railway station.
Twenty-five years later and Garcia is putting his feet up in style after selling three-quarters of all El Gordo lottery tickets in the 2021 Christmas lottery.
“It’s a funny story because I’ve had this administracion de loteria for 25 years and I sold it just 10 ten days before the Christmas results,” Garcia said.
“I had faith in this number, and a strange premonition something special would happen.
“What makes me most proud is this year’s jackpot has gone to families all over the country, not just a workplace or a bar. It’s the best send off I could have imagined.”
When asked if he’d kept one of the winning 86148 tickets behind, Garcia was coy: “Maybe, could be, I’ll have to check.”
But his plans for future gave it all away: “The wife and I are going on holiday.”
Spain’s Christmas lottery – the Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad – is unique in the world as each ticket number is sold up to 1700 times.
When one of the five-digit numbers hits the El Gordo jackpot, all 1700 ticket holders win an equal €400,000 each.
Garcia sold 1270 tickets of the winning number meaning he’s gifted a stunning €516 million to families all over the nation this Christmas.
It’s common for an administracion to sell the winning number to residents within the same town, but this year’s El Gordo has gone to travellers who just happened to buy a ticket before departing across the country.
Not everyone at Madrid Atocha shared Garcia’s glee, though.
The other administracion at the station sold the number 86748, missing out on the jackpot by one number.
A cleaner at the station, Rocio, told reporters she had held Garcia’s winning number in her hand and decided against it.
“I can’t believe I was so close to winning,” she said.
“At least I still have my health and my job. I’ll keep on going.”
Spain’s state lottery body – Loterías y Apuestas del Estado – gave out €2.4 billion in prizes this year.
The top prize went to 86148, followed by 72119, 19517, then the two numbers 42833 and 91179 that won the 4th prize and eight more five-digit numbers that each won the 5th prize.
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