President López Obrador stepped aboard the presidential plane for the first time to record a video in a bid to boost slow lottery ticket sales.
As of August 11, just 2.02 million tickets of the six million available had been sold.
The tickets, which went on sale March 1, cost 500 pesos (US $23). On September 15 a draw will take place for 100 winners who will be awarded 20 million pesos (US $910,000) each.
The amount of the prize money is loosely based on the value of the plane, which is still for sale and will not be raffled off itself, as the president had previously contemplated.
In the video which was uploaded to López Obrador’s social media channels Monday, the president stands in a hangar at the foot of the stairs leading to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. “I look small, but I am not self-conscious. I am a republican, power is humility,” he tells the camera as he climbs the stairs and enters the plane he has refused to fly in as he considers it an unnecessary luxury.
Inside, the camera pans the cockpit, the office, the presidential bedroom suite and its opulent bathroom.
“Buy your ticket, let’s make history,” he tells the camera from the main cabin, offering the thumbs-up sign while standing alongside the seat reserved for the president. “With so much poverty, this is an insult.”
The lottery was expected to raise 3 billion pesos of which 2 billion would be paid out in prize money and the remaining 1 billion pesos would help fund healthcare. The prizes are guaranteed regardless of how many tickets are sold because funds will be drawn from the proceeds of the sale and auction of assets seized from convicted criminals.
The custom outfitted plane, named “José María Morelos y Pavón,” has been assessed at around US $130 million by the United Nations. It was ordered by former president Felipe Calderón in 2012 and cost US $218 million. The plane was delivered four years later to his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, who last used the jet to fly to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018.
López Obrador has made a point of refusing to fly on it, traveling instead on commercial airlines.