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How the Mexican Game Lotería Is Providing Comfort During a Pandemic

The traditional game of chance is uniquely suited for this uncertain time.

  • La Lotería, or Mexican bingo, is one of the games people are turning to while practicing social distancing.
  • Artists are reimagining traditional cards to better represent modern day.
  • Lotería can offer both a distraction and a sense of comfort.

In this time of quarantine and social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, puzzles and board games have become a way to pass the time with loved ones (virtually and not), while offering a creative outlet. There is, however, one game in particular that feels uniquely suited for this uncertain time: La Lotería.

A traditional game of chance, lotería—the Spanish word for lottery—is often referred to as Mexican bingo, where illustrated cards depicting the Mexican aesthetic replace bingo balls. Latinx and Hispanic communities have been playing this game for hundreds of years, but in the past decade, it has become increasingly visible in the United States, according to Google Trends.

At present, artists like Rafael Gonzales, Jr., and Millennial Lotería creator Mike Alfaro are reimagining lotería cards to capture our “new normal,” including versions that represent hand sanitizer, working from home, and other coping mechanisms. Elsewhere, Latinx creators, brands, and even former presidential candidate Julián Castro, have created their own cards or merchandise inspired by the game. And just this past December, Google invited Mexican and Mexican-American artists to reimagine and reinvent the cards for an interactive Google Doodle to celebrate the 106th anniversary of its copyright in Mexico.

Brooklyn-based author and illustrator Cecilia Ruiz, 37, was one of the guest artists invited to work on the Google Doodle—and to her, part of the game’s persistent appeal is purely nostalgic. The cards themselves are retro and charming, she tells OprahMag.com, and the game reminds her of growing up in Mexico City. “It was one of the few games that we could all play,” she says. “My grandparents, my parents, my cousins. it’s amazing in that way.”

The pandemic has certainly triggered a similar sense of nostalgia, as more people physically isolate themselves in an effort to flatten the curve. It’s not surprising, then, that lotería is among the games people have turned to. In fact, nostalgia can be a powerful coping mechanism, studies posit.

And yet, nostalgia is just one reason why Ruiz thinks there’s been an increase in visibility. She notes that today, there is also a greater Latinx and Hispanic population in the U.S., many of whom grew up playing the game. (Census data estimates that the U.S. Hispanic population reached a record 59.9 million in 2018.) The game is still sold at mercados in the U.S. and Mexico, and there is also this little thing called the internet.

You could say a combination of all three is how Alfaro ended up making Millennial Lotería. In 2017, the 31-year-old creative director found his old lotería games while visiting his family in Guatemala. He told OprahMag.com that he felt nostalgic, yes, but he also thought some of the traditional card concepts were outdated. This was around the time the #MeToo movement was starting to gain traction, and a card like “La Dama” (“The Lady” or “The Lady in Waiting”) felt “so reductive for the time that we were going through.” Since then he’s reimagined that card to be “La Feminist,” plus several others to illustrate concepts and issues that millennials can better relate to.

“Tinder dates? That’s a card,” Alfaro said. “Technology is a big one, like hashtags. I think a lot about issues that affect me as an immigrant, too; coming to America and how hard it was to navigate the system.”

One such card was “La Border Wall.” He didn’t want people to think that he was supporting it, so he drew a ladder to show that he was overcoming it. It’s important to him to be as authentic and honest as possible, he said, especially when targeting millennials, who he believes are good at detecting bull.

So far, it’s been a huge success: Millennial Lotería has sold over 60,000 copies and is currently a number one best-seller on Amazon. An Instagram filter that randomly selects cards in Alfaro’s game has received 1.3 million impressions so far. And in addition to the pandemic-related cards he’s been posting on Instagram (as well as hosting live lotería games), he has plans to release a new version, the Shiny AF edition. It will introduce some cards while phasing out others, and each one will look more holographic and glitter-y. “It’s like if Lotería and Lady Gaga had a baby,” he says.

You can see the enthusiasm for Alfaro’s game in his Instagram comments, especially among young people who are frequently tagging their friends, asking for prints and even more variations of the cards. But under a recent post for “El TikTok,” there was a comment that asked him why he was ruining the game. Alfaro said he’s gotten this kind of pushback from “boomers” before, but, as was the case with the border wall, he meets these situations with humor. “If it makes them upset, it’s going to make Latino millennials more excited. It’s not just my abuelo’s game. It’s mine.”

It’s not just that lotería has become more visible in the U.S., but it’s also become more accessible—across platforms and generations. It’s a game, but the fact that the cards are in Spanish also makes it a learning tool. The cards are typically presented with a short verse or riddle while playing, so it promotes philosophical thinking and perspective, too. As artists like Ruiz and Alfaro continue to reimagine the decks that they grew up with, it will make that intellectual social commentary more relevant and impactful. Lotería checks a lot of boxes, and, as Yvette Benavides wrote in her Creative Nonfiction: Issue #72 last year, it’s life-giving.

Here is a little more about the history of the game, and how you can play yourself.

Who invented lotería?

As Amherst college professor Ilan Stavans explains in his 2003 paper, “¡Lotería! or, The Ritual of Chance,” the game has a complex history. It originated in Italy during the 15th century—the Italian word is “lotto”before it made its way to “New Spain,” the name for modern Mexico at the time, in 1769. King Charles III of Spain established “la lotería nacional,” which started out as a hobby for the elite before traveling “ferias” or fairs were introduced for the masses to come and play.

In 1887, French entrepreneur Don Clemente Jacques published the “Don Clemente Gallo” version of the game with ten boards and 80 cards, including “un naipe” or a joker, according to Stavans. These games would be included in care packages for soldiers at the time, but it wasn’t until they returned home and played the game with their families that it really become popular.

Modern decks now include Spanish names for each illustration, plus fewer cards, but Jacques’ version still remains one of the most recognizable to date.

What do lotería cards mean?

There is a randomness to the cards, but traditionally, each has been a window into Mexican history and culture: “El Bandolón” (“The Mandolin”), “El Nopal” (“Prickly Pear Cactus”), and “La Muerte” (“The Death”), the latter of which is among Ruiz’s favorites. For the Google Doodle, she reimagined some other classic cards, like “El Sol” (“The Sun”), “La Luna (“The Moon”), and “El Pajaro” (The Bird). She was inspired by the traditional illustration, but she did take some liberties when drawing (including a new card for “El Guacamole”), especially for the sun and moon. “The original look more serious and kind of scary, so the ones I did were happier,” she said. “More joyful.”

More than 100 years after the game came to Mexico, la lotería is reaching new audiences in the U.S. and providing both distraction and comfort in trying times.

Loteria Rules | Chicago Bears Official Website

2020 CHICAGO BEARS LOTERIA GAME
OFFICIAL RULES
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN A PRIZE.
A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.

1. HOW TO ENTER: The Chicago Bears Loteria Game (the “Loteria”) starts September 18, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Central Time (“CT”) and ends on October 15, 2020 at 12 Noon CT (“Entry Period”). To enter the Loteria each entrant (“Entrant”) must:

  • Step 1: Register online at ChicagoBears.com/Loteria by 12 Noon CT each Thursday before each Loteria is played.
  • Step 2: The Loteria will be played on the following Fridays at 11:00 a.m. CT: September 25, 2020; October 2, 2020; October 9, 2020; and October 16, 2020.
  • Step 3: Entrants will receive his or her Loteria gameboard before the Loteria is played on Friday, at 11 a.m.
  • Step 4: Entrants will submit his or her gameboard at Chicagobears.com/Loteria by the Monday after each Loteria: September 28, 2020; October 5, 2020; October 12, 2020; and October 19, 2020

Limit one (1) entry per person.

2. ELIGIBILITY: The Loteria is open to all legal residents of the United States ages 18 years and over as of the date of entry, unless prohibited in the state. Employees, officers, directors, agents, and representatives of The Chicago Bears Football Club, Inc. (“Sponsor”), PNC Bank, National Association, and its parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, wholesalers, retailers, distributers, advertising and promotion agencies, and their immediate family members (mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, daughter, son, step-father, step-mother, step-daughter, step-son, step-brother, step-sister, half-brother, half-sister) and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited by law.

3. PRIZE: Entrants that have nine (9) matching images on their gameboard and submit their gameboard as described above will be selected as a “First Place Prize Winner” (collectively referred to as “First Place Prize Winners”). First Place Prize Winners will receive one (1) of the following at Sponsor’s discretion (the “First Place Prize”):

Prize: New Era Chicago Bears Cap Approximate Retail Value: $35.00

Prize: New Era Chicago Bears Cap Approximate Retail Value: $35.00

Prize: New Era Chicago Bears Cap Approximate Retail Value: $35.00

Prize: New Era Chicago Bears Cap Approximate Retail Value: $35.00

One (1) grand prize winner will be selected upon the completion of the Loteria (“Grand Prize Winner”). The Grand Prize Winner will receive the following grand prize: one (1) customized Chicago Bears jersey and one (1) auto-graphed mini-helmet (“Grand Prize”). The Grand Prize’s approximate retail value is $225.00.

First Place Prize and Grand Prize collectively referred to as Prize.

Sponsor reserves the right to substitute any Prize with another of equal value should any unforeseen circumstances occur. All state, federal, and local taxes or other expenses not specified herein are the sole responsibility of the Prize Winner. No Prize substitutions or cash redemption will be made except Sponsor’s sole discretion. Prize is non-transferable.

4. SELECTION OF WINNERS: First Place Prize Winners will be emailed if they are a winner of that week’s Loteria and will receive their Prize approximately two (2) weeks from submission of gameboard. Grand Place Prize Winner will be notified by email or telephone on or about October 17, 2020. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received.

5. AGREEMENT TO OFFICIAL RULES: By participating in the Loteria, each entrant accepts and agrees to comply with and abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which shall be final and binding in all respect. In the event of any conflict or inconsistency between these Official Rules and any advertisement, promotional or marketing materials, or other announcements relating to the Loteria, these Official Rules govern. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or modify the Loteria at any time. Sponsor may amend these Official Rules by posting such amended Official Rules on www.chicagobears.com.

6. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMERS: BY ENTERING THE SWEEPSTAKES, ALL ENTRANTS AGREE TO FOREVER WAIVE, RELEASE, DISCHARGE, AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE SPONSOR, PNC BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, AS WELL AS EACH RESPECTIVE PARTIES OWNERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, ATTORNEYS, DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, SHAREHOLDERS, CONTRACTORS, SUCCESSORS, ASSIGNS AND INSURERS (COLLECTIVELY “RELEASED PARTIES”) FOR AND FROM ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, DEBTS, LIABILITIES, DEMANDS, OBLIGATIONS, COSTS, FEES, EXPENSES, ACTIONS, CAUSES OF ACTION WHATSOEVER, OF EVERY NATURE, CHARACTER AND DESCRIPTION (COLLECTIVE, “CLAIMS”), KNOWN AND UNKNOWN, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ALL THOSE ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO THE SWEEPSTAKES; THESE OFFICIAL RULES; ENTRANT’S ENTRY; THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES; THE ACCEPTANCE, POSSESSION, MISUSE OR USE OF ANY PRIZE; AND ANY PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES. IN ADDITION, EACH ENTRANT ACKNOWLEDGES AND AGREES THAT THE RELEASED PARTIES ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY COSTS, INJURIES, LOSSES, OR DAMAGES OF ANY KIND ARISING FROM OR IN CONNECTION WITH: (I) INCOMPLETE, LOST, LATE, MISDIRECTED OR ILLEGIBLE ENTRIES OR FOR FAILURE TO RECEIVE ENTRIES DUE TO ANY CAUSE, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, HUMAN, TRANSMISSION, OR TECHNICAL PROBLEMS, FAILURES, OR MALFUNCTIONS OF ANY KIND, WHETHER ORIGINATING WITH SENDER OR OTHERWISE, THAT MAY LIMIT AN ENTRANT’S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SWEEPSTAKES; OR (II) ANY INJURY OR DAMAGE RESULTING FROM PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES AND/OR THE USE OR MISUSE OF ANY PRIZE (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, CLAIMS, COSTS, INJURIES, LOSSES AND DAMAGES RELATED TO PERSONAL INJURIES, DEATH, DAMAGE TO, LOSS OR DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, OR ANY CLAIMS, COSTS, INJURIES, LOSSES, OR DAMAGES RELATED TO OR BASED ON THE ENTRANT’S RIGHTS OF PUBLICITY OR PRIVACY, OR THE ENTRANT’S CLAIM THAT HE OR SHE HAS SOMEHOW BEEN DEFAMED OR PORTRAYED IN A FALSE LIGHT.)

BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY, ENTRANT REPRESENTS AND WARRANTS THAT HE OR SHE OWNS AND/OR HAS THE AUTHORITY TO RELEASE THE CLAIMS STATED HEREIN. FURTHER, BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY OR ACCEPTING ANY PRIZE, ALL ENTRANTS AND PRIZE WINNER EXPRESSLY AGREE TO AT ALL TIMES DEFEND, HOLD HARMLESS, AND INDEMNIFY THE RELEASED PARTIES FROM AND AGAINST ALL CLAIMS OF ANY KIND OR NATURE WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING REASONABLE ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND DISBURSEMENTS) ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO THE SWEEPSTAKES; THESE OFFICIAL RULES; ENTRANT’S ENTRY; THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES; THE ACCEPTANCE, POSSESSION, MISUSE OR USE OF ANY PRIZE; AND ANY PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES.

THE RELEASED PARTIES ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ENTRIES OR PRIZE NOTIFICATION EMAILS THAT ARE LOST, STOLEN, MISDIRECTED, GARBLED, DELAYED BY COMPUTER TRANSMISSION OR DAMAGED.

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, ITS MEMBER PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL CLUBS, NFL VENTURES, L.P., NFL PROPERTIES LLC, NFL ENTERPRISES LLC, NFL PRODUCTIONS LLC AND NFL INTERNATIONAL LLC AND EACH OF THEIR RESPECTIVE SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, SHAREHOLDERS, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AGENTS, REPRESENTATIVES AND EMPLOYEES (COLLECTIVELY, THE “NFL ENTITIES”) WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY CLAIM ARISING IN CONNECTION WITH PARTICIPATION IN THIS GIVEAWAY OR ANY PRIZE AWARDED. THE NFL ENTITIES, OTHER THAN THE CHICAGO BEARS FOOTBALL CLUB, INC., HAVE NOT OFFERED OR SPONSORED THIS SWEEPSTAKES IN ANY WAY.

7. PUBLICITY RELEASE: By participating in the Loteria, each entrant irrevocably grants the Released Parties the right to use each such entrant’s name, photograph, image, video, biographical information, in any and all media for any purpose, including, without limitation, advertising and promotional purposes and each entrant hereby releases the Released Parties from any liability with respect thereto, except where prohibited. By entering this Loteria, entrant permits the Released Parties to utilize entrant’s contact information provided by entrant on the entry form to contact entrant for any reason via phone, email, and/or mail. Completion of the entry form constitutes assent to these written terms.

8. ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMERS: If the Loteria is not capable of running as planned for any reason, including, without limitation, because of a printing error, human error, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failure or other cause which corrupt or threaten to corrupt or adversely affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Loteria, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, modify or suspend the Loteria, including awarding the prizes from among eligible entries received prior to the date of the cancellation, modification or suspension. All participants, as a condition of entry, agree to abide by and be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor. Failure to comply with these Official Rules may result in disqualification from this Loteria. Sponsor reserves the right to permanently disqualify any person it believes has violated these Official Rules. Participants further agree to not knowingly damage or cause interruption of the Loteria and/or prevent others from using the Loteria. Any person who supplies false information, obtains entries by fraudulent means, or is otherwise determined to be in violation of these official rules in an attempt to obtain any prize will forfeit any prize won and may be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

9. GOVERNING LAW: ALL ISSUES AND QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE CONSTRUCTION, VALIDITY, INTERPRETATION AND ENFORCEABILITY OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES OR THE RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE ENTRANTS, SPONSOR OR RELEASED PARTIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SWEEPSTAKES SHALL BE GOVERNED BY AND CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS WITHOUT GIVING EFFECT TO ANY CHOICE OF LAW OR CONFLICT OF LAW RULES OR PROVISIONS THAT WOULD CAUSE THE APPLICATION OF ANY OTHER STATE’S LAWS.

10. PARTICIPANTS’ PRIVACY: Any personally identifiable information collected in connection with an entrant’s participation in this Loteria will be used by Sponsor, its respective affiliates, and agents only for purposes of the proper administration and fulfillment of the Loteria, as described in these Official Rules, and in any manner consistent with Sponsor’s respective Privacy Policy, available at https://www.chicagobears.com/about/privacy-policy.

11. OFFICIAL RULES: For a copy of the Official Rules please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: The Chicago Bears Football Club, Inc., Attn: 2020 Chicago Bears Loteria Game Rules, 1920 Football Drive, Lake Forest, Illinois 60045. Requests must be received by October 16, 2020.

12. SPONSOR: The Chicago Bears Football Club, Inc., 1920 Football Drive, Lake Forest, Illinois 60045.

WIN2LOTTO.CO.ZA loteria rules Post author By Admin Post date How the Mexican Game Lotería Is Providing Comfort During a Pandemic The traditional game of chance is ]]>