If you’ve been to your local Costco this fall, you may have seen an iconic piece of Latino culture on shelves. 

A “deluxe” version of lotería started popping up at the bulk chain, exciting many, but raising eyebrows for others. Many were quick to point out differences between it and the original: new imagery on the game boards and cards, and the use of glass tokens instead of frijoles.

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Was this just a cash grab from the warehouse store? Or were people quick to assume so?

The original Lotería is a staple of Mexican culture originating in Europe

Similar to bingo, lotería is a game of chance that is a fixture in Mexican culture. According to the Museum of Latin American Art, it originated in Europe before it arrived and remained in Latin America during the mid-18th century.

There were variations in the game’s illustrations before it became popular in Mexico. The traditional ones we know and love were designed by Don Clemente Jacques, a Frenchman living in Mexico. His version, which features bright pops of blue and yellow, is deemed the authentic set. It’s sold in Latino grocery stores for less than $10.

One playing card from the traditional lotería game designed by Don Clemente Jacques.
Image used with permission from Amazon.

Each game board, or tabla, features 16 random images out of 54. The designated caller draws symbols from the card deck, and the goal is to get four in a row or a square. Traditionally, the called images are marked with beans or pennies.

Today, there are many versions of lotería available to us, from Mike Alfaro’s reimagined Millennial Lotería to Hello Kitty and Star Wars-themed sets. It’s even recently gone Hollywood in the game show Lotería Loca hosted by Jaime Camil.

So, is Costco’s version authentic?

The skepticism that followed as this lotería de lujo was spotted at Costco is understandable. Companies often create their own products inspired by other cultures just to make a profit, instead of amplifying something made by the actual community they’re profiting off of.

However, this version of the game is made by a Mexican toy company. Note the logo in the bottom right corner of the box: Novelty Corp. was founded in Mexico in 1992, and they specialize in the wholesale distribution of games, hobby goods, and toys according to Bloomberg.

If it’s in stock, you can find this lotería for sale at Costco stores across the country for $11. You’ll have better luck finding it south of the border, as it’s primarily sold in their Mexico warehouses. The game can also be found on Amazon

Novelty Corp.’s deluxe lotería certainly isn’t what we’re used to seeing compared to the classic Don Clemente-designed game. But, we can surely give it a try.