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Spain's lottery hits $1.1 billion

A lottery has showered $1.1 billion on top ticket holders in five regions of Spain as it endures a deep recession and high unemployment.

The "El Nino" (The Child) lottery is held each Feast of the Epiphany -- Jan. 6 -- and the top prize tickets were sold in Alicante, Leon, Madrid, Murcia and Tenerife. The lottery's name refers to the baby Jesus, who according to tradition was visited this day by three kings of Orient bearing gifts.

The top tickets dished out $260,240 to each winner, but in keeping with new austerity measures they will pay 20 per cent income tax on that.

Spain's most lucrative lottery, "El Gordo" (The Fat One), is held Dec. 22 and last year distributed $3.3 billion in prize money.

The Canadian Press

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