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$1.1 billion lottery in Spain dubbed "El Nino"

Spain's $1.1 billion lottery winnings come with a catch.

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Thuan Le, mother of four boys, plans to use her winnings to buy a house, travel, and visit her parents in Vietnam with her $14 million lottery winnings. (Kevork Djansezian/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain's annual "El Nino" lottery, held each Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), awarded $1.1 billion total to ticket holders this year. But all that prize money comes with a catch. Anyone who wins more than $3,250 in this lottery will have to pay a 20 percent income tax on their prize, the Associated Press reported.

Why the high taxes? Blame austerity. In September, the Spanish government introduced its tough new budget for 2013. The austerity cuts have inspired thousands of people to march in protest. But in a country suffering record high unemployment and social unrest, the El Nino lottery comes as a welcome diversion, even with the taxes.

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"I am very excited because I really needed this," a lottery winner told the AP. . "Now that I've won, I just think I've been very lucky."

Believe it or not, El Nino is not Spain's largest lottery. That honor goes to "El Gordo," Spain's annual Christmas lottery. This past December, the El Gordo lottery awarded $3.3 billion to 130 people, Euro News reported

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/130107/11-billion-lottery-spain-dubbed-el-nino