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Entire Town Wins Lottery — Except for One Person

Insulinde, Flickr

We’ve all seen those stories about groups of people who routinely buy lottery tickets together, only to have one member of the pack fail to do so the week they strike it rich.

Now something similar has happened again — in Spain.

The small farming community of Sodeto only has about 70 households, all of whom were struggling under Spain’s economic downturn and the ravages of a severe drought. So when it came time to buy tickets for the country’s huge Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo — meaning “the fat one” — some of Sodeto’s residents thought about taking a pass.

But since the homemaker’s association in the village gets a small cut of each ticket sold, nearly everyone contributed what they could. And when the numbers were drawn, all but one household in Sodeto held at least a piece of the lottery’s huge $950 million first prize, the biggest ever.

“This money means that now we can breathe,” said José Manuel Penella Cambra, a local farmer. “And the best part is that it isn’t just me. Everybody won.”

Well, everybody except one: Costis Mitsotakis, a Greek filmmaker who moved to Sodeto to be with a woman. The relationship didn’t work out, but he stayed anyway, living in a barn he’s restoring just outside the village. He didn’t refuse to buy a ticket — he was simply overlooked as the homemakers made the rounds.

Remarkably, though, he isn’t bitter. Winning would’ve been nice, but he says there’s been an upside, even for him: land he’s been trying to sell without much success finally found a buyer in one of his newly-rich neighbors. And when other residents also expressed interest, he refused to allow a bidding war to break out.

“This is a small village,” he said. “You don’t want bad feelings.”

[The New York Times]

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