Posted on: December 9, 2022, 08:39h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2022, 11:00h.

A small town in Belgium can claim to be home to a large group of almost millionaires. A recent EuroMillions lottery drawing worth €143 million (US$159.6 million) turned Olmen into a rich town overnight, according to Euro News.

Antwerp, Belgium
An aerial view of the skyline of Antwerp, Belgium. Many of the residents in the Belgian town of Olmen just took home huge cash prizes from a recent EuroMillions win. (Image: Pinterest)

A group of locals got together to play the lottery, each putting in €15 (US$15.80). In total, 165 people jumped into the pool and, when their numbers hit, their lives changed overnight.

In a town of around 4,000 people, word travels fast. It didn’t take long for everyone in Olmen, lamenting Belgium’s exit from the World Cup, to learn that each winner was now staring down at a windfall of €870,000 (US$916,458), just in time for the holidays.

Early Holiday Gift

Olmen is mostly a rural, agricultural town in the northern part of Belgium. There isn’t much to do there, except perhaps, participate in or watch its annual medieval Carnival.

Shock is the word most people in the town are using to describe what has happened. The sudden windfall will make it considerably easier to get away from the cold winter weather for a vacation somewhere, and some have already announced that they’re ready to pack their bags.

Others are going to stick to the true spirit of Christmas. Instead of using the money only on themselves, they plan on sharing it with friends and family.

Pooling money for lottery draws is a common practice around the world, although sometimes with mixed results. Belgium has seen a number of group wins in the EuroMillions over the years, according to the BBC, but this was the biggest to date.

The Olmen win was up there among the biggest, but it didn’t set the record for the largest prize. This past summer, a single winner in the UK took home $239.18 million. As big as that was, it still pales in comparison to the recent $2-billion Powerball in the US.

Missing the Action

The EuroMillions jackpot runs in nine countries in Europe, including Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. This is one of the reasons the pots are able to grow as large as they do.

However, even country-specific lotteries can offer big prizes. Spain annually holds its El Gordo lottery, a Christmas tradition that becomes a national affair. This year, it could reach €2.52 billion (US$2.65 billion).

In 2016, the pot was €2.31 billion (US$2.43 billion) when everyone in the town of Pinos Puente suddenly became rich. El Gordo doesn’t have a single jackpot winner. Instead, players buy set numbers, which are often sold within the same cities or towns.

This was the case for Pinos Puentes. That year, the winning numbers corresponded to those that were being offered in the town of 13K, where many had purchased a ticket. The result was every winner taking home €100,000 (US$105,340).

A similar scenario played out four years earlier, but with one unhappy ending. The farming town of Sodesto in Northern Spain saw each of its 250 residents collect about €494,000 (US$520,000) that Christmas when the El Gordo lottery landed in their backyard.

However, one resident wasn’t so lucky. Originally from Greece, he had been living in the town, but didn’t buy a ticket. It was an unfortunate result that echoes the old saying – you have to be in it to win it.