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A reporter won the lottery and quit her job, live on air — only to find the payout was about $5,500

Dec 26, 2019, 8:31 pm

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El Gordo

A Spanish television reporter appeared to celebrate and quit her job on live television after realizing she had a winning El Gordo lottery ticket. It was a decision for which she would later apologize.

On Sunday, 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.

The state-run lottery is the world's richest draw, boasting 2.24 billion euros (about $2.43 billion) in prizes, according to the Guardian. Nearly 15,000 people can have a winning ticket that pays different amounts, according to travel website Barcelona Yellow.

The winning number this year was 26590, and Escudero was one of the lucky ticket holders to have the correct number for a prize worth 400,000 euros ($444,000) for each ticket. But the prize money can be split multiple ways, and 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!"

Her news station-based colleagues smiled and laughed at her excitement. Escudero's winning was news to them, one of the anchors told viewers.

The crowd behind Escudero jumped and chanted with their lottery tickets in hand.

Escudero 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, she told Escudero.

Another woman told Escudero she couldn't believe her good fortune as she spoke into Escudero's microphone with her lottery ticket going in and out of the shot.

"It's true! It's not 'The Truman Show,' " Escudero exclaimed, referencing the 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey, in which his character discovers his life is a televised simulation.

The crowd started jumping again with bubbly spraying the air. Some got into Escudero's eyes.

Forty tickets had been sold at her reporting location, with the winning number worth 16 million euros, she said into the camera. She pulled the woman who sold her the ticket and kissed her on the cheek as champagne continued to spray.

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 Escudero would need a tattoo of it.

But Escudero would later learn that her share of the jackpot was only 5,000 euros, or about $5,500, BBC reported.

A Spanish lottery ticket costs 200 euros, 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 euros. This is what Escudero, and probably those celebrating around her, bought. So her winning number was worth only a 10th of a full ticket's share of the prize.

Hundreds of tickets with the same series can be sold, according to Barcelona Yellow.

In a subsequent clip that same day, Escudero made a zipping-lips motion with her hands and said that she had not been touched by the grand prize of the lottery, only a "pinch," she said into the camera.

Some members of the public and Spanish media accused her of being unprofessional and duping viewers about her earnings. 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.

Escudero 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. Escudero was starting her holiday break and getting ready to celebrate her "delicious pinch" of good luck, she said.

It's unclear if Escudero is still an employee at RTVE.

VIDEO: Watch the ill-advised antics

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