Valencia community journalist Natalia Escudero was covering Spain’s annual Christmas lottery, called El Gordo (The Fat One), when she found out that she was also a winner. It happened on Sunday December 22.
The state-run lottery is the world’s richest draw, boasting €2.24 billion (S$3.37 billion) in prizes, according to the Guardian. Nearly 15,000 people can have a winning ticket that pays in different amounts, according to travel website Barcelona Yellow.
The winning number this year was 26590, and Ms Escudero was one of the lucky ticket holders to have the correct number for a prize worth €400,000 for each ticket. But the prize money can be split multiple ways, and Ms Escudero would soon learn about the complexity of the distribution.
“I’m not going in tomorrow,” she said, wagging her finger in front of the camera with her bangs shaking in unison. “Natalia doesn’t work tomorrow. Woo!”
Aquí la tienes: "la reportera de La 1" de la que habla todo el mundo a estas horas. ¡Se llama Natalia Escudero! #LoteríaRTVE
— TVE (@tve_tve) December 22, 2019
Her news station-based colleagues smiled and laughed at her excitement. Ms Escudero’s winning was news to them, one of the anchors told viewers.
The crowd behind her jumped and chanted with their lottery tickets in hand.
She paused some of the excitement to interview a fellow lottery winner about what she intends to do with the money.
The woman smiled under the arm of a loved one and said she planned to pay off her debts and live.
Another woman told Ms Escudero she couldn’t believe her good fortune as she spoke into the microphone with her lottery ticket going in and out of the shot.
“It’s true! It’s not The Truman Show,” Ms Escudero exclaimed, referencing the 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey, in which his character discovers his life is actually a televised simulation.
The crowd started jumping again with bubbly spraying the air. Some got into Ms Escudero’s eyes.
Forty tickets had been sold at her reporting location with the winning number worth €16 million, she said into the camera. She pulled the woman who sold her a prize-awarding ticket and kissed her on the cheek as champagne sprays continued.
She repeated her lottery number and said she would never forget it. Her fellow anchor at the news station joked that she, too, now had the digits seared into her mind and that Ms Escudero would need a tattoo of it.
But Ms Escudero would later learn that her share of the jackpot was only €5,000 (S$7,500), BBC reported.
A Spanish lottery ticket costs €200, the Sun reported. So to make the game easier to enter, people can buy a decimo, or a 10th of a full ticket, for €20. This is what Ms Esucdero, and probably those celebrating around her, actually bought. So her winning number was only worth a 10th of a full ticket’s share of the prize according to the report.
Some members of the public and Spanish media accused her of being unprofessional and duping viewers about her earnings.
Ms Escudero tweeted an apology for anyone who felt deceived by her reaction. The past few months have been difficult, she said, and the win was the first time she has felt some good fortune.
She was disheartened that she had appeared to undermine her 25 years of experience.
One thing was certainly true: She wasn’t going to work the next day. Ms Escudero was starting her holiday break and getting ready to celebrate her “delicious pinch” of good luck, she said.
It’s unclear if Ms Escudero is still an employee at RTVE.