Mexico’s best athletes of the moment followed with special interest the events of this Wednesday’s National Lottery.
There were plenty of reasons: this September 15, as part of the celebrations for the national holidays, a Grand Special Draw was held and the money raised will be given to the Mexican athletes who competed in the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Two million tickets were issued for 22 prizes with a value equivalent to close to US$12.6 million. The cost of each ticket was 250 Mexican pesos (about US$12).
Instead of money, for the first time the prizes were real estate, most of it confiscated from organized crime in various states of the country, including houses, apartments, ranches and land.
Also raffled was a box at the famous Azteca Stadium, scene of the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals, which can be used for 44 years by the lucky ticket holder.
It is not just any box: designed for 20 people, it has a bathroom, kitchen and the right to four parking spaces.
Among the most eye-catching properties is a house in Culiacán, in the State of Sinaloa, the former property of drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. From there he escaped to the Mexican army in 2014 through a tunnel he built under the bathtub of the house. Guzmán is serving a life sentence in the United States after being extradited by Mexico in 2017.
Another notorious residence is the luxurious mansion confiscated 20 years ago from drug trafficker Amado Carrillo, known as “Lord of the Skies.” The luxury residence has more than 3,000 square meters, a heated swimming pool, nine bedrooms, and is valued at close to US$3 million.
The initiative to stimulate athletes with the funds raised from this raffle came from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who also rewarded the athletes of the Pan American and Parapan American Games in Lima two years ago.
At that time, much of the money came from more than US$5 million obtained from the sale of a mansion owned by Zhenli Ye Gon, a Mexican businessman of Chinese origin accused of drug trafficking.
A Mexican businessman, Carlos Bremer, acquired the residence, which was destined to a Foundation that supports young athletes.
The financial support to the Pan American athletic contingent was given in such a way that the athletes would make a monthly planning of a little more than US$1,000. The amount for the gold medalists was about US$2,100, the silver medalists received about US$1,400 and the bronze medalists received a little over US$1,300.
It is not yet known what formula will be used for the distribution of the money among the Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Tokyo and how much they will receive individually. It is expected that coaches will also be encouraged.
At the Olympic Games in the Japanese capital, the Mexican delegation fell far short of expectations, winning only four bronze medals to finish in 84th place.
The opposite was the case of the Paralympic expedition, where Mexico finished in 20th place with 22 medals: 7 gold, 2 silver and 13 bronze, a superior performance to that achieved in Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
The Athens 2004 Olympic runner-up and director of Mexico’s National Sports Commission, Ana Gabriela Guevara, was part of the presidency of this unprecedented draw celebrating Independence Day.