Rescued migrant wins €400,000 in Spain’s Christmas lottery

24 December 2015
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An unemployed Senegalese man who was rescued by the Spanish coastguard after making a risky journey from Morocco eight years ago on a packed wooden boat won 400,000 euros in Spain’s annual Christmas lottery, local media reported Wednesday.

“I just can’t believe this, I can tell you that on some days we do not have five euros between the two of us,” he told the newspaper which published a photo of Ngame holding his winning ticket.

Ngame and his wife arrived eight years ago in the resort island of Tenerife, a part of Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco.

They were taken there after being rescued by Spain’s coast guard when the boat they were travelling in ran into trouble.

“There were 65 people on that boat. I want to give thanks to Spaniards and the Spanish government for rescuing me when I was in the sea,” he told the newspaper.

Since arriving in Spain, the couple have tried to survive on temporary farm work or as vegetable pickers in the sea of greenhouses that spread for kilometres (miles) in Almeria.
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Ngame said he was recently laid off from his job in one of the greenhouses.

The Christmas lottery has been held uninterrupted since 1812. Even Spain’s 1936-39 civil war did not end it, as each side held its own draw during the conflict.

It has become a popular Christmas tradition in Spain, with friends, colleagues and bar regulars banding together to buy tickets.

The standard ticket costs 20 euros and queues form outside lottery stores weeks ahead of the draw.

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