MADRID (Reuters) - Hundreds of people queued for two and a half hours in Madrid on Saturday to buy Christmas lottery tickets at a vendor considered the luckiest in Spain.
Security guards ensured people respected social distancing rules in the long queue outside Dona Manolita, a central Madrid kiosk that has been selling lottery tickets for more than 100 years. It last struck lucky in 2019.
"I'm picturing that I'm going to win the prize," said factory worker Mayra Alomoto, 33, who was buying tickets for the first time.
Spain's Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo (the Fat One), dates back to 1812 and is a major event in the festive calendar.
The rules allow for the same number to be sold multiple times, leading to the winning ticket often being sold across several different towns or cities.
This year, the popular tradition is bringing some much needed hope to many Spaniards, who have endured some of the toughest lockdown restrictions and highest coronavirus tolls in Europe.
"It's a hope dream for the end of the year. People want to escape from poverty. Everyone has a different wish," said Asmahe, 40, who is unemployed.
Madrid regional authorities on Friday announced they would tighten Christmas restrictions and reduce the number of people who could meet up from 10 to six after the incidence rate over the past 14 days rose to 276 per 100,000 people.
Spain's death toll climbed by 149 on Friday to 48,926, Health Ministry data showed. The number of cases now stands at 1,797,236.
(Reporting by Guillermo Martinez; Writing by Jessica Jones; Editing by Christina Fincher)