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Spain's "El Nino" lottery hands out $1.1 billion

LAST UPDATED: 01:40 a.m. HST, Jan 07, 2013

Spain's "El Nino" lottery hands out $1.1 billion

AP Photo AK101, AK102, AK107, AK115

Eds: APNewsNow. With AP Photos.

MADRID (AP) — A lottery has showered (euro) 840 million ($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 (euro) 200,000 ($260,240) to each winner, but in keeping with new austerity measures they will pay 20 percent income tax on that.

Spain's most lucrative lottery, "El Gordo" (The Fat One), is held Dec. 22 and last year distributed (euro) 2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) in prize money.

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