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President López Obrador presented the design of the raffle ticket at a press conference in January. President López Obrador presented the design of the raffle ticket at a press conference in January.

Government to spend 500 million pesos to buy aircraft raffle tickets

They will be handed out to public hospitals, whose staff will choose how to spend the prize if they win

The federal government will spend 500 million pesos (US $23.4 million) on tickets for the “presidential plane” raffle and distribute them to public hospitals treating coronavirus patients, President López Obrador said Tuesday.

He said the government will purchase 1 million tickets using resources obtained from the seizure of organized crime assets.

At the start of the year, López Obrador floated the idea to raffle off his predecessor’s luxuriously-outfitted Boeing 787 Dreamliner that he refuses to use and is trying to sell.

The idea sparked copious chatter on social media, with people musing about what they would use the plane for should they win the raffle and wondering where they might be able to park it.

But in February the president shattered ordinary Mexicans’ dreams of owning the plane, announcing that a raffle would indeed go ahead but instead 100 winners would each receive a prize of 20 million pesos.

The combined prize pool of 2 billion pesos (US $93.6 million) is supposed to be representative of the value of the plane, although its real worth has been estimated at $130 million.

López Obrador said Tuesday that the 1 million 500-peso tickets the government will purchase will be allocated to 956 public hospitals treating Covid-19 patients. Each hospital will get about 1,000 tickets, he said.

If one of those hospitals wins one of the 20-million-peso prizes – the raffle will be drawn on September 15 – its employees will decide how to spend the money, the president said.

He said it could be used to purchase medical equipment, an ambulance, workers’ uniforms or to improve the hospital’s general facilities. “Whatever they [the workers] decide,” López Obrador said.

The president reminded citizens that they still have time to buy their own raffle ticket and thanked business people and the heads of social organizations who have already purchased an allotment.

López Obrador hosted a dinner in February at which he asked some 150 company owners, chief executives and business leaders to commit to purchasing large bundles of tickets.

Ernesto Prieto, general director of the National Lottery, which is managing the raffle, told reporters Tuesday that just over 3.8 million of 6 million tickets have been sold, generating revenue of more than 1.9 billion pesos.

The raffle prizes will also be paid using resources obtained from the confiscation of criminal organization’s assets – the government has held several narco-auctions – allowing all the raffle’s revenue to go to health care.

López Obrador said that at least 2 billion pesos in raffle revenue will be used to purchase medical equipment, adding that all money raised will stay in the health sector.

Tickets can be purchased through links at the National Lottery’s website. However, the site was unavailable on Wednesday afternoon.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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