World

In Mexico, presidential jet ‘raffle’ sees final push for ticket sales

A Mexican lottery salesperson arranges lottery tickets for a Mexico presidential plane for sale at a raffle ticket booth, in Mexico City

FILE PHOTO: A Mexican lottery salesperson arranges lottery tickets for a Mexico luxury presidential plane for sale at a raffle ticket booth as Mexico’s government on Monday made a final push to sell lottery tickets for the value of the last president’s luxury jet, in Mexico City, Mexico September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero

September 15, 2020

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s national lottery prepared to announce on Tuesday the 100 winners of a much-hyped raffle tied to a luxury presidential jet that the government has slammed as a symbol of the corrupt excesses condoned by its predecessors.

The lottery, timed to end on the eve of Mexico’s independence day festivities, is part of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s efforts to cast himself as a leader freeing the country from decades of graft.

He asked the Senate on Tuesday to allow a referendum next year on whether to investigate former presidents for corruption.

One-hundred winners, out of 6 million tickets offered, will each take home 20 million pesos, or just under $1 million. Last-minute interest jumped, with long lines at lottery booths.

The total prize money loosely represents the value of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner used by former President Enrique Pena Nieto that Lopez Obrador has cast as a symbol of excess and corruption in a country where about half the population lives in poverty. Mexico has struggled to find a buyer for the jet.

“The goal has already been reached,” Lopez Obrador told reporters Tuesday morning.

The lottery marks an unorthodox government effort to boost health spending, with remaining proceeds destined for chronically underfunded public hospitals. The lottery is partly funded by sales of property mostly confiscated from alleged drug traffickers.

On Monday, authorities said only 70% of the 500 peso ($24) tickets had been sold, despite frenzied marketing by Lopez Obrador’s allies, including one government agency spending about $24 million on the event.

Ahead of the 2:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) cut-off for sales, local media showed smiling buyers in the capital, proudly showing their tickets to television cameras.

Winning tickets are set to be announced at 4:00 p.m. local time.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Richard Chang)

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