The top prize is 1.2 billion colons or about $2.4 million tax-free. There are five such prizes because there are five copies of each big lottery ticket.
Each ticket has 40 pieces that may be sold or exchanged individually. The 40-piece entero frequently is broken up among families or even friends and persons in the same community.
The lottery agency is the Junta de Protection Social de San José. Those ticket holders who are not winners can at least feel pleased that they have contributed to the Junta’s many social programs.
The odds of winning the top prize are slim. The winning ticket must have the correct three-digit series number and the correct two-digit ticket number. Even if a ticket is selected, it may only qualify for a smaller prize.
The drawing will be at the Museo de Arte Costarricense in Parque La Sabana at 6 p.m. Sunday. The event will be televised and there will be a crowd. Everyone will be praying for lighting to strike.
There will be three roulette-style cages or baskets. One will contain balls representing the series numbers. A smaller cage will contain balls representing the two-digit ticket number. A third and even smaller cage will contain balls representing the prize.
So one Junta worker will spin the cage and announce a series number. A second worker will spin and draw a ticket number. Then a third worker will announce the prize. All of the lotteries are under strict control and supervision.But there was some grumbling and surprise two weeks ago when the same number and series won second and third prize in the regular weekly lottery. That was reported to be the first time this has happened in the 4,000 or more lottery drawings.
An entero for Sunday costs 60,000 colons or about $120. There are lesser prizes than the $2.4 million. For example a ticket with the same series number but a different ticket number for the big winner gets 1 million colons or about $2,000.
Expats who want to play the lottery do not have to purchase a full 40-piece entero. Each of the 40 fractions sells for 1,500 colons or about $3. Of course if that fractional ticket is a winner, the holder gets just 30 million colons or about $60,000. Many Costa Ricans like to buy fractions so they have multiple chances of winning.
There were plenty of lottery tickets still available in the downtown Thursday night. But there were many purchasers, too, Vendors receive money if they sell a winner, and they receive a commission on each ticket sold.
Each year the week following the lottery is filled with stories about the winners. Although the big news will be the top winners, there are a number of human interest articles with lottery themes. One year a lottery vendor held a ticket in trust for a purchaser, and that ticket turned out to be a big winner. The vendor dutifully turned over the ticket to the purchaser.
Less well covered is what happens to the winners. Anton Chekhov, the Russian writer, described the personal disruption of a big win in his short story “The Lottery Ticket.” That happens in Costa Rica, too.
Nearly every family has a tale about a relative who was a lottery winner and managed to blow the cash in a short period in a manner that could endanger health.