A lottery group in Mexico is raffling away a 2021 Suzuki Jimny for $299 pesos, and it comes in the best color the Jimny currently gets, neon green. The paint is a dead-on match for my face — green with envy — when family shared news of the raffle, or rifa, as they’re called in Mexico. Depending on the exchange rate on the day of the drawing, March 20, the Suzuki Jimny will end up costing about $14. For reference, a new Jimny would cost $449,990 pesos, or just over $21,000, from the dealer.
Of course, I should break the following awful news first: the raffle is not open to people in the U.S. or other foreign folk. Even if it were, the Jimny can’t be registered for use on American roads. That won’t stop me from daydreaming (read: scheming) about winning a neon green Jimny for basically the price of a Whataburger combo and apple pie.
The group that set up the raffle is from Reynosa, Tamaulipas. That’s the border town in north Mexico just south of Hidalgo, Texas. The proximity of Reynosa to the Rio Grande Valley is why I see Jimnys bombing around the American side of the border often, and the exposure hasn’t made me less susceptible to throwing happy tantrums when a Jimny drives past.
The group sponsoring this and other raffles like it, Sorteos Reynosa, is connected to the National Lottery for Public Assistance, a state-run lottery in Mexico operated by the its public administration branch. In some ways, the winner of the Suzuki Jimny can thank AMLO for their new off-roader.
And these rifas are common in Mexico, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a Jimny raffled away. The raffles are not just run by public groups but also by regular people, and they involve goods that would otherwise be too expensive for most Mexicans, who made about $16,200 on average in 2020.
Think of the raffles as another Omaze, or even like the Texas Mega Millions. These are just another clever way that people in Mexico have crowdsourced wealth or belongings. They remind me of another Mexican practice called a tanda, which is sort of like a communal pot of money folks pay into in small sums for a bigger payout. NPR calls these “lending circles.”
Whatever you want to call them, both the tandas and rifas make me happy despite the economic conditions that make them necessary. And now happier, because I’ll celebrate anyone who wins a Jimny for the price of fast food.