35-year-old Senegalese Ngame arrived in Spain with nothing, but after winning the 2015 El Gordo Christmas lottery, he gained a new appreciation for life along with 400,000 euros. Ngame, along with 35 African migrants purchased their tickets in the southern coastal city of Roquetas de Mar and in doing so, claimed a stake in the massive El Gordo grand 2015 prize. The lucky ticket number 79140, purchased from the seaside town was claimed by 1,600 people, ultimately changing their lives forever.
Ngame’s story in particular, touched the nation. Previously being rescued at sea on an overcrowded wooden boat, Ngame’s life had not been easy. “I just can’t believe this, I can tell you that on some days myself and my wife did not have five euros between the two of us,” reports Ngame as he holds his winning ticket. Eight years ago, Ngame and his wife were travelling to Spain when their boat ran into trouble and was promptly rescued by a Spanish coastguard and taken to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco.
Since their arrival, the couple tried to make ends meet by doing temporary farm work as vegetable pickers in the greenhouses that spread for miles in Almeria. “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,” says the grateful Ngame. After winning, Ngame decided to commemorate his win by addressing his previous employer who laid him off; “This is a souvenir to Antonio, who left us to fend for ourselves.” Ngame’s situation has vastly improved since then, but when he was asked what he was to do with the winning money, he remained undecided and in no hurry to spend it all.
Even though all lotteries offer major jackpots, the Spanish El Gordo Christmas lottery is literally ‘The Fat One’ as the name states. This lottery is known to unite the entire country as all tend to participate and after the draw date, many rejoice and delight in the festivities. Given the recent European debt crisis however, most winners opt to pay off their debts with the spoils of their wins instead of buying luxury goods and taking expensive vacations.