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The strange story of Mexico's presidential plane lottery

September 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Sixteen immaculately dressed children walked onstage Tuesday in Mexico's National Lottery building, a few yelling the day's winning numbers in a distinct staccato.

But this was a lottery like nothing the country has ever seen -- the short story behind it involves nearly a decade's worth of allegations of corruption, a $218 million plane, a politician who tries and fails to sell that plane, and of course, the novel coronavirus.

"Not even Obama has a plane like this one," López Obrador has said, calling it a symbol of government excess and corruption, in a country struggling with poverty.

López Obrador has said his administration can't sell the plane for less than it is worth.

His sentiment was widely shared among Mexicans and the plane raffle soon became a running joke in the country.

López Obrador decided that the raffle would go on -- but the prize would no longer be the plane.

At the time, the government hoped roughly 6 million tickets would be sold at 500 pesos each, about $25.

The money raised would be used to pay the winners their money, and any excess funds would be used to donate medical equipment to the public health system -- and also help maintain the plane ahead of any eventual sale.

The raffle's purpose shifted again: Now, López Obrador's administration touts the excess raffle proceeds as supporting the government's battle against the pandemic.

Of the earnings announced so far, the government will owe roughly 95%, or about $100 million, to the 100 winning tickets drawn on Tuesday.

The federal government has also effectively entered its public hospitals into the raffle, purchasing and distributing about 1,000 tickets to each facility -- or about 1 million tickets worth about $25 million in total.

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