That time an entire town won lottery -- except 1 guy

NEED TO KNOW
  • In 2011, an entire village in Spain won the lottery, except for one man
  • Costis Mitsotaki has directed a documentary about the town's win and his loss
That time an entire town won lottery -- except 1 guy

As Americans everywhere dream of what they might do with a $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, one small village in Spain already knows what it’s like to win big. In 2011, the people of Sodeto won 120 million euros (about $160,000,000 at today's exchange rates) from the annual lottery, called “El Gordo,” or the fat one.

Weeks earlier, the town’s Housewives Association had bought a large stack of lottery tickets, all with the same five numbers. The women then went around the village to sell the tickets, a common form of fundraising in Spain, according to Michael Paterniti who reported on the town’s victory for “GQ.”

A few days before Christmas, the farming village northeast of Madrid woke up to discover that every person in town, except for one, had won at least 130,000 euros (or around $180,000 today).  

The housewives never knocked on Costis Mitsotakis’ door.

Misotakis, a filmmaker, who lived on the outskirts of town was not an avid lottery player and only bought tickets when approached by someone selling them. “It was the first time in seven years I didn’t buy a ticket,” Costis told HLN.

In interviews following the lottery win, Misotakis seems unfazed by the fact that he was the lone loser in a town of winners. Paterniti does report that when Misotakis heard about the amount of money the town won, his response was “oh s***.”

Most families spent their money on paying off their mortgages and buying new farm equipment. “The first thing they wanted to get rid of was the bank breathing over their necks,” Mostakis told HLN.

Although he didn't get any of the money, Misotakis has benefited from his now-wealthy neighbors.

He was having trouble selling some land he owned. After the “El Gordo” win, he had multiple offers from neighbors. 

He was also approached by Lars Tang Sørensen, a Danish filmmaker, about producing a documentary on the lottery-winning village and the one man who lost.  Almost two years after the win, “Cuando Tocó,” is in its final stages of production and will be released in February or March of next year.

Misotakis has interviewed many of the people of Sodeto for his film. "Everybody is so sick of telling their stories that they run from the reporters," Costis told GQ, "but with me, they feel guilty. They think it's the least they can do."

However, Misotakis is actually happy he didn’t win millions that fateful morning. “I thank them that they didn’t sell me a ticket,” he says because no one would make a documentary on just another winner.  

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