The pope and ‘El Gordo’

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain — Spanish lottery lovers have seen a sign from God, well, specifically from Pope Benedict XVI, who is visiting their country today and tomorrow.

The famed Christmas lottery, called Loteria de Navidad, has the largest cash prize payout of all the lotteries in the world.

Its first prize is dubbed “El Gordo” because it is a “fat” chunk of money. Last year’s top prize gave out $4,200,000. There are hundreds of smaller cash winnings and the drawing on Dec. 22 every year can take hours.

As I was reading one of today’s local Galician newspapers, I saw a small article about how the main lottery outlet that sells the tickets was receiving a “multitude of requests by telephone and Internet” for the numbers 61110 and 71110.

Apparently a large number of people think the dates of the pope’s visit 6/11/10 and 7/11/10 (Europeans put the day first and the month second) are mighty auspicious and want to cash in.

I checked last year’s winning numbers and the closest winners were 61112 and 71104 — not too far off.

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