Sodeto is a small village of roughly 250 residents in Spain. There isn’t really anything special or remarkable about this village...except that it is the luckiest village in the world, because the whole town won the lottery!
That’s right, just before Christmas in 2012, Sodeto residents won over $150 million in total of the epic $950 million El Gordo de Navidad jackpot. All of the residents of Sodeto had entered the El Gordo de Navidad Christmas raffle (except for 1) and they all ended up taking home a large sum of money. This tiny town filled with mostly unemployed construction workers and farmers, is now booming with a strong agricultural economy and lots of very well-off citizens. The smallest amount won by an individual in town was a hefty $130 000 and the largest amount won by a single resident was $5.2 million!
El Gordo de Navidad is the most popular lottery and raffle event to happen all year long in Spain. It was first established in 1812 and grew quickly in popularity due to its large probability of at least winning something - a 1 in 6 chance. This raffle works differently to normal raffles, because you don’t have to buy a full entry (which can sometimes be a bit pricey) and can instead buy a “boleto” which is a portion, or participation, of a ticket. More than 1 person can also buy tickets, or portions, of the same number. Everybody having the same number on their tickets, or portions, is how Sodeto’s whole town managed to win.
The local Homemakers Association sells tickets for El Gordo de Navidad every year to raise money for local festivals and events. It is not uncommon for a reseller to only sell tickets for one specific number, which is what they had decided to do this year. This meant that every single person in the town had the same number on their ticket and when the draw happened...everybody won! Well, everybody except for one extremely unlucky resident who was the only person in town who had decided not to enter the El Gordo de Navidad Christmas Raffle.
Costis Mitsotakis is the only resident of Sodeto who did not win because he had not purchased a ticket. He did not go out of his way to buy an entry, because he is actually greek and did not know what all of the hype around El Gordo de Navidad was about. Luckily for him, he has still managed to benefit from his town’s recent popularity by being able to sell a piece of land he had been struggling to sell to a newly millionaire neighbor and by making a documentary on his misfortune, The Unluckiest Man in the World.
Although most of the people who live in Sodeto are now completely debt free with a bunch of extra cash in the bank to burn, their Mayor, Pons, said that nothing about the town, or its people, has changed too drastically. The only main differences she said that she noticed is that farms are bigger, they have more cattle and livestock, and they have lots of new farming equipment. “You will definitely see a few fancy and brand new tractors rolling around the streets, but you won’t be seeing any BMW’s or Bentley’s”, Mayor Pons said. “Our people aren’t flashy, we just want to invest our money smartly and wisely towards our future and the future of this town.”