Mexico Celebrates Presidential Plane Lottery Amid Doubts, Hopes — And No Plane

By Rodrigo Cervantes
Published: Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 3:56pm
Updated: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 7:55am
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Office of the Mexican President
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (left) giving a press conference on July 27, 2020, in front of the soon-to-be-sold presidential plane.

MEXICO CITY — One of the most important symbols of the Mexican president’s fight against corruption is the luxurious presidential plane used by previous administrations. After his government failed to sell it, he wanted to raffle it but that turned into a lottery — without the plane. The lottery finally happened this week, but many questions remain. 

On the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day, the traditional shouting children of the Lottery announced the 100 winning numbers.

Each winner will get nearly $1 million — a symbolic fraction of the value of the plane.

Part of the prizes come from money seized from organized crime. That money was also used to purchase tickets that the government gave away to some public healthcare facilities. The money earned from selling the lottery tickets will be given to public hospitals, particularly COVID-19 clinics. 

By the day of the raffle, about 70% of the tickets were sold.

Critics say the lottery was a populist move and the results are worse than just committing to an adequate health care budget. Some public service bureaucrats say they were forced to purchase tickets. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself coerced business leaders to buy some earlier this year. 

The government argues that the airplane lottery was more a people’s contribution to health care. And the plane remains for sale.