Thousands of winners of Spain's US$1.1 billion El Nino lottery broke open champagne and wept for joy, savouring their luck at a time when the country faces its most severe economic crisis in decades .
"I feel great satisfaction, especially now when everyone is on such a limited budget. It's really a relief," one of the winners of the highest prize of €200,000 (HK$2 million) said on TVE public television on Sunday.
"I have a son who is unemployed, and I will be able to help him … and (pay for) my daughter's studies," another said.
El Nino, dubbed the "little brother" of the much bigger El Gordo Christmas jackpot, paid out €840 million this year.
The second prize was €100,000. Each ticket cost €20.
But for the first time, winners will have to pay 20 per cent tax on any sum exceeding €2,500 under Spain's austerity drive aimed at slashing the public deficit.
The tax took effect this year, so the top winners of €400,000 each in the El Gordo lottery, drawn on December 22, pocketed the full amount. El Gordo paid out a total of €2.466 billion.
The lotteries are among the world's most generous, paying out 70 per cent of their takings.
The El Nino draw on January 6 - the 12th day of Christmas - is a tradition that began at the beginning of the 20th century.