Spain’s $3.4B Christmas Lottery Makes U.S. Mega Millions Look Bush-League

For first time, government will collect 20% for taxes on winnings

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Spain may be emerging from a crippling economic recession, but it’s rolling in dough when it comes to its national lottery.

Winning numbers were picked Sunday for the nation’s Christmas lottery — the richest in the world — which totaled a massive $3.4 billion jackpot, dwarfing last week’s American Mega Millions prize of $648 million, according to the Associated Press.

The jackpot is split up into tiers of cash, rather than one giant jackpot. “El Gordo” winners go home with $546,200 per ticket, and second place prizes pocket $170,000.

In an effort to recognize the absurdity of its flush of lottery cash set against the nation’s economic plight and unemployment rate of 26 percent, the government will collect a 20% tax on the winnings for the first time.

The Christmas lottery remains one of Spain’s most popular traditions, with more than 46 million tuning in Sunday to watch at least part of the live, four-hour show.

[AP]