This festive period will be one to remember for a large group of lotto players from a small village in Belgium after their syndicated play won the EuroMillions jackpot of €143 million ($150.7 million).
Shocked with Disbelief
A group of 165 people from Olmen, in the Antwerp province, won the EuroMillions jackpot from the Tuesday draw after paying €15 ($15.8) each into a pot to buy tickets at their local newspaper store. The collective win made each of the lucky winners about €868,000 ($914,872) richer, according to the Belgian National Lottery.
Joke Vermoere, a spokesperson for the Belgium National Lottery, was at the newspaper store on Wednesday when some of the lucky players heard the news and was able to witness their reactions of disbelief mixed with euphoria when they received what she called “the best Christmas present.”
Vermoere also stated that group play winning big from the lottery is not uncommon in the country but this was the biggest group win ever – there were 27 million entries for the draw which resulted in a final jackpot of €142,897,164 ($150,613,610).
Wim Van Broekhoven, the manager of the newspaper store, De Pershoek Olmen, told Belgium Radio that he had been organizing syndicated lotto plays for several years. He also said that he had to repeat the news multiple times as his lucky customers could not believe they had won.
After the announcement, almost half of the people from the lucky group came to the newspaper store, and while some could not believe their luck, others were quick to plan what to do with the unexpected windfall.
Dream Holiday in the US
One of the lucky winners said that the money would be split equally among their three children and eight grandchildren, while another would use part of it to extend an already booked holiday, fulfilling a long-standing dream of spending several months in the US, having a chance to see the Grand Canyon and “then hike, hike, hike.”
Organized in nine European countries – Belgium, France, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg – the EuroMillions allows for the accumulation of large jackpots, and the amount won by the Olmen group of players is not the largest to date.
In July, a single player from the UK won £195 million ($239 million) while months before that, a couple from Gloucester won £184 million ($225.6 million).
Last month, a man who had won big from the EuroMillions in 2019 was sentenced to spend twelve months behind bars for swindling other people’s money.