No one can tell what the future holds. Sometimes, people wake up one day to find that they are no longer poor but instead have turned into instant millionaires. That’s exactly what happened to the 80 residents of the sleepy village of Cerezales del Condado in Spain. Every single person in the village have just become millionaires. But their good fortune is not the result of winning El Gordo (The Fat One), Spain’s national lottery.
It was because of one man.
Antonino Fernández was born into grinding poverty and at the age of fourteen he had to leave school because his parents could not afford the fees. Years later, Mr Fernández went on to become the CEO of Grupo Modelo, the brewery company who make Corona beer.
Sadly, Mr Fernández died in August this year, aged 99, and was by then a billionaire. Under his eccentric will, £169m was left to the residents of Cerezales, the village in Leon province where he was born and raised, with each villager inheriting roughly £2m ($3.4). Maximino Sanchez, who owns the only bar in the village, which is stocked full of Mexican beers, told the Diario de León newspaper: “We never had any pesete (money) before. I don’t know, what we would have done without Antonino.”
Fernández was born on December 13, 1917 into grinding poverty and at the age of 14 Fernández had to leave school because his parents could not afford the fees. In 1949, his wife’s uncle, who owned Grupo Modelo, invited the couple to move to Mexico, where Fernández began working for the brewery, as a warehouse employee.
He worked his way up through the ranks, and by 1971 he had risen to CEO and he helped make Corona not only Mexico’s most popular beer but also a huge export phenomenon, including in his native Spain where it is sold under the Coronita brand.
He maintained his position as CEO for 26 years until 1997 and as Chairman of the Board until 2005, with both roles later taken over by his nephew Carlos Fernández González.
He also remained as the Honorary Life Chairman of Grupo Modelo until his death.
Corona Extra is the second most imported bottled beer in the United States, with annual sales of $693million (£556million).
Fernández was a well-known philanthropist who never forgot his motherland and was honoured by the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, for his charitable deeds, including his work with disabled young people.
Fernández established an organisation in Leon called Soltra, which offers employments opportunities to disabled people, as well as a similar company named after his wife, Cinia, which operates in Mexico.
He also set up the ‘Cerezales Antonino y Cinia’ Foundation in his hometown in 2009, to support rural initiatives in the area.
But it was only after his death that it was clear to the people of Cerezales how much he loved his birthplace.
The village is also getting a brand new cultural centre, paid for out of his inheritance and a local non-profit foundation with 300 employees will also benefit, reports Daily Mail.