For Love or Money? One Couple Doesn’t Have to Choose in This Lovely Spanish Lottery Ad

It's all destined in this fantastical tale

The lottery may not have much to do with fate, but it's a lot like love—if you don't play, you won't win, says a new ad from Spain.

The three-and-a-half minute commercial for EuroMillions, the country's national cash raffle, offers a twist on a classic romance—boy meets girl, boy chases girl, boy and girl win gigantic sum of money in long-shot gamble, boy and girl live happily ever after.

It's beautifully told, deliberately out of order, by agency Shackleton. The scene opens on a man sitting on the floor in his hallway in the early morning hours, staring at a piece of paper. Eventually, he gets up and walks into the bedroom, where is wife is still sleeping. He hesitates so long it seems the spot might take a darkly comic twist, and see him stuff a few clothes into a duffel bag and flee with his winnings before she even wakes up.

But it's not that kind of story. He gently rouses her. She checks the numbers too. It turns out he's not dreaming—they've won.

Cue a lengthy flashback to when they first met. She's standing several spots ahead of him at an airport check-in line. She catches his eye, but doesn't seem to notice him. Once he reaches the desk, he asks to be seated next to her. A reasonably hesitant flight attendant ultimately obliges.

Once he boards the plane, and takes his spot, he quickly peels the price tag off the book he's just bought—it's a copy of the same one he noticed her reading. After proceeding to make an utter fool of himself, he comes clean, attempting to salvage a presumptuous gambit that could just as easily be awkwardly creepy as goofily cute. Lucky for him, she laughs and blushes.

"Do you believe in destiny?" he asks her. "Do you?" she replies, without answering. "I believe in chasing your destiny," he says, with a little smile. She beams in return. The ad cuts back to the present, where, still grinning, she's crying with joy over their newfound, literal fortune.

"So what do we do now?" she asks. "Everything," he replies.

In other words, the EuroMillions are like your soulmate. They're right there in front of you, waiting to be yours, but you have to roll the dice.

Meant to promote drawings like a Sept. 30 pot starting at the equivalent of about $145 million, it doesn't actually mention the prize until the final seconds of the commercial. Instead, it manages to be surprisingly engaging for such a long spot, earning its success largely through the writing's laser focus on the characters and their credible—or at least plausible—emotions, plus the solid acting from the two leads, and the generally gorgeous production values.

The art-film overtones, the heartfelt—if gooey—melodrama, and the absence of any of the garish jingles, stings or humor that are common in lottery advertising, make it feel somewhat fresh for the genre. Rather than taking the usual route of relying on gaudy, fantastical absurdity to implicitly admit and simultaneously distance itself from the improbability of anyone watching ever actually winning the game, the ad is embracing not just the possibility of making your wildest material dreams come true, but the promise to fulfill your deep emotional need for close human connection as well—free from the tedious constraints of having to earn a living.

From a real-world perspective, the whole thing is, naturally, ridiculous. In an intriguing nod to the ad's target demographic, its scenery suggests the happy couple really isn't doing that poorly to begin with. Their home seems spacious, warm and well-appointed. The opening shot suggests there's probably at least one kid in the picture, by catching a child's bedroom in the corner of the frame.

Odds are decent, even if they did win the lottery, they might finally have the financial leeway to give up on their marriage, sooner or later—assuming they didn't mismanage and burn through the winnings in the blink of an eye. (A 2015 ad from the same "Is there anything bigger than this?" campaign offers a glimpse of how a single person might spend all that money.) That is also assuming the young woman wouldn't just get really uncomfortable at having to spend who knows how many hours sitting in close proximity at 30,000 feet to the young man who pseudo-stalked her back at the airport, rather than just melting into a happy puddle of rom-com meet-cute sentiment.

Then again, it's still an insidiously brilliant angle, mostly because it shamelessly drives at a fundamental truth. Nobody wants to die broke, or alone.