Tuesday, December 22, 1998 Published at 22:34 GMT
Lottery fever hits Spain
Manuel Vargas (left) and Alejandro Esteban received $2.1m each
Thousands of people all over Spain have been celebrating after receiving prizes in the country's giant Christmas lottery.
The top prize of 42bn pesetas ($290m) was shared among thousands of people across the country, including whole communities, many of whom had bought only a fraction of a ticket.
The country practically ground to a halt as a group of Spanish schoolchildren sang out almost 15,000 numbers and their corresponding prizes in a ceremony that lasted more than three hours.
The largest amount this year went to a small town in the Northern Basque region.
But others in Barcelona, Murcia and Seville also bought a share of that same number, and as the main prize numbers were read out champagne corks began popping all over the country.
Prizes all round
The attraction for many is that the Spanish lottery money tends to be shared.
Few get rich enough to retire. But the winners might take an exotic holiday or buy a new car.
One winner this year who sells cigarettes to motorists treated his customers to free packets before retiring for the rest of the day to celebrate.