Doña Manolita, the most profitable fifteen square meters in the world

“Not even that they distributed millions.” Many people from Madrid express themselves with these or similar words when they come across the queues of the Doña Manolita Lottery administration. “More than selling tenths, they dispatch them,” points out the curious, amazed at the convening power of one of the most profitable places on the planet, especially during the last months of the year. If the annual turnover per square meter (166,000 euros) could be measured, there would be no equivalent. In fact, the commercial area is barely around 15 square meters, from the window to the door of number 22 Calle de Carmen, the old Smoker’s Mansion.

From the distance of any skeptical observer, waiting for several hours to acquire a lucky number seems trivial if it is rewarded with a great prize. “I would be planted here all year if they assure me that El Gordo falls on me. What am I saying a year! I would be almost half a life if then I can live the other half,” an acolyte of the administration number 67 of the capital, next to the Puerta del Sol.

The curious thing about the phenomenon of Doña Manolita is that such precious numbers can be purchased without the need to wait or travel. All you need is a connection to the web and access to the domain to participate in the success of an establishment that has been handing out dreams and millions for more than a century, now owned by Juan Luis de Castillejo and Bermúdez de Castro, Count of Cabrillas.

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So much aim is only explained by the volume of sales it makes per year, above 70 million tenths

The website itself recalls that the name of the most famous administration in Spain is due to Doña Manuela de Pablos, a Madrilenian from the Chamberí neighborhood 141 years ago, the daughter of a master mason and the wife of a bullfighter. This bullfighter changed the castoreño and “the pole for numbered tickets”, as recalled by the lottery obituary, published in ABC 70 years ago now. The businesswoman first opted for a tobacconist, located on Calle Hortaleza in Madrid, until when she was 25 years old, in 1904, at the age of 25, she inaugurated Administration No. 67, on Calle Ancha de San Bernardo in Madrid. “What Manolita did not know at the time is that from that moment it would become the Temple of the goddess Fortuna,” explains the company through its website. The same sources recall that “at a time when women were practically relegated social background, Doña Manolita became not only a prosperous businesswoman, but also a muse for writers, painters and artists”. Later she moved to Gran Vía and from there to her current location.

To date, Doña Manolita has distributed more than 76 Gordos de Navidad, enough loot to become a magnet for new gold seekers. So much aim is only explained by the volume of sales that she makes per year, above 70 million tenths. The writer Andrés Trapiello, in his book Madrid, points out about Doña Manolita that “the superstition that she is the most awarded Spanish lottery is more entrenched than the evidence that she distributes more prizes than any other only because she is the one that sells the most numbers, which justifies queues of three and four hours in front of his administration”.

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The friends of the numbers are clear that the probability of getting a tenth bought in Doña Manolita is the same as acquiring it in any other administration in the world: one in 100,000. Now, the illusion of doing it in such an iconic venue is priceless.

The sequence of all December 22 is known in half the world: the children of San Ildefonso match the numbers with the prizes and, immediately afterwards, Doña Manolita appears in the list of graceful administrations. So dictates tradition… and arithmetic.

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