A sure sign of Christmas is the announcement that the seasonal lottery is available. The gordo navideño or fat Christmas lottery is a traditional event.
The selection of the winning numbers is prime time television material, and the news media is full of human interest stories for days: Who sold the winning tickets? Who won? How will it change their lives?
The government agency that runs the lottery, the Junta de Protección Social, said Tuesday that the top lottery prize will be worth $2.4 million or about 1,2 billion colons. That’s tax-free. Expats can purchase a full ticket or one of 40 pieces.
The prize is proportional.
There are five sets of tickets with the same number and 500,000 full lottery tickets will be in the streets.
The drawing Dec. 16 is a big deal, and it is even bigger if viewers have a ticket. There are three of those roulette baskets. One produces a three-digit number for the series and one produces a two-digit ticket number. Then an operator of a third basket produces a ball that gives the prize.
So someone could have both the series number and the ticket number yet still get a small prize.
In a country where the hand of God is important and fate is revered, the lottery is a major event. Frequently pieces of a winning ticket are held by a number of persons in a community. So when they win, the fortunes of the community are changed.