In that moment, the announcer shouted the word on the ball, the stage burst with jets of flame and confetti like it was a televised rock concert, photographers clamored over each other for a better shot, and fireworks began to burst in the sky overhead.
The announcer had just said which lucky numbers won the grand prize of 1.2 billion colons in the Junta de Protección Social’s annual Christmas lottery. That is about $2.4 million. It turns out that there is no winner because the five duplicate tickets with the winning numbers had not been sold, the Junta said later.
The junta is a government organization that supports more than 300 social programs throughout Costa Rica. The organization gets the money for these programs by holding lotteries such as this. Junta spokesperson Elizabeth Badilla said that there are 10 major lotteries per year.
Ms. Badilla said that the Junta sold about 400,000 lottery tickets for this drawing, or 80 percent of the numbers available. Most of these tickets were sold by men and women walking along major thoroughfares carrying bundles of hundreds of tickets selling them to both pedestrians and drivers.At the ceremony in the plaza of the Museo de Arte Costarricense, organizers brought a 13-piece traditional Latin band and even a full marching band to ease the pre-drawing tension.
Although the odds of winning are still not very high, dozens of tickets were selected at the drawing in Parque Sabana Sunday night. More than 50 people won prizes of 1 million colons ($2,000) and 1.5 million colons ($3,000).15 tickets were awarded 3 million colons ($6,000) and five were awarded 5 million colons ($10,000).
The winners and what they won were selected in three drawings by large cages full of balls that spun by an attendant. The first ball picked contained a three-digit series number and the second contained the two-digit ticket number. A final ball picked from a much smaller cage dictated how much each selected combination won.
The top three prizes were 50 million colons ($25,000), 100 million colons ($50,000) and of course the grand prize of 1.2 billion colons.
The grand-prize winning combination was 726-70. The full results will be posted on the Junta’s Web site: http://www.jps.go.cr/premiosNacional.cfm