Sunday 22 April 2018

Rescued migrant scoops €400,000 lottery prize

Senegalese man Ngame celebrates his win in Spain
Senegalese man Ngame celebrates his win in Spain

Alan Clendenning

It's the ultimate rags to riches story - 35 African migrants, including at least one rescued at sea from an overcrowded wooden boat, are among the top prizewinners of Spain's Christmas lottery.

Each of the migrants is now in line to collect €400,000.

The winners, who bought the tickets in the southern coastal city of Roquetas de Mar, included migrants from Senegal, Mali and Morocco, said Lottery agency owner Jose Martin.

Among them was a Senegalese man named Ngame, who told Spanish media that he and his wife were rescued by Spain's coast guard in 2007, when their boat with 65 people was traveling from Africa's western coast toward the Canary Islands.

Outside the lottery agency, Ngame was in tears as he clutched a photocopy of his winning ticket with the number 79,140. He thanked Spain for saving his life and giving him the chance to play the country's world famous lottery.

"I thank the Spanish government, the Spaniards too," said Ngame. "They saved us when we were in the middle of the sea."

Ngame did not give his last name to reporters but said life has been difficult for him and his wife since they arrived in Almeria. They had not decided how they would use the jackpot.

"I'm not sure," jobless Ngame said. "It's too soon to decide. We have to talk and see."

Although other lotteries offer larger top prizes, Spain's El Gordo (The Fat One) is the world's richest, and unites the country because almost everyone takes part. There are 24 million prizes in all for a country with a population of 47 million - and players in droves form pools with friends, family and colleagues to buy the €20 tickets.

The news came as two migrants drowned yesterday as a group of over 200 tried to swim from Morocco to Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta.

Irish Independent

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