MEXICO CITY — Mexicans will no longer have to worry about where to park a Boeing Dreamliner 787 when the government raffles off the luxurious presidential jet: the air force will keep it.
In fact, nobody will win the actual $130 million Boeing 787-8 jet in the lottery-style raffle to be held in coming months.
Among the many desperate attempts to get rid of the expensive plane, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had toyed with the idea of actually awarding the plane to the winner, along with a year's paid maintenance and parking.
But López Obrador had worried that would cause problems for the winner, both because of the greed it could unleash among friends, relatives and acquaintances, and because the idea had been lampooned on social media, with people posting pictures of shacks or taco stands with a jetliner parked outside.
So the president announced Friday that the raffle will actually be symbolic, awarding total prize money of $100 million, which lottery tickets state is "equivalent to the value of the presidential jet." One hundred winners will divide equal shares of the $100 million pot.
"We did not want to award a prize that would be a problem," López Obrador said. "You know, the memes, 'where would I park it?'"
Instead, he said, a cash prize winner would be free to use some of their winnings to rent the plane for a few trips, at the current hourly operating price of about $13,500 per hour.
Last year, Lopez Obrador said he'd use proceeds from the sale of the jet to help meet President Donald Trump's demands that he step up efforts to halt illegal immigration.
Now, the government hopes to sell 6 million tickets at about $25 apiece, raising $150 million. The remaining money will pay to keep the airplane in flight condition while López Obrador tries to sell or rent it. Any net proceeds would go to buy medical equipment
López Obrador flies tourist class on commercial flights and views the jet as wasteful. It was purchased by his predecessor for an estimated sale prioce of $218 million.
The plane — which includes wide leather seats, a double bed and a spacious bathroom with a shower — failed to find a buyer after a year on sale at a U.S. airstrip, where it piled up about $1.5 million in maintenance costs.
The jet is expensive to run and is configured to carry only 80 passengers. Experts say it would be too costly to reconfigure back into a conventional commercial airliner that normally carries as many as 300 travelers.
Previously, López Obrador had suggested bartering the plane in exchange for U.S. medical equipment or selling it in shares to a group of businessmen for executive incentive programs.
He has also offered to rent it out by the hour, in hopes of paying off the remainder of outstanding loans on the jet, which is the one of the hundreds Boeing has built in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. The company's Seattle-area plant produced this particular plane .