Antonino Fernández made all 80 residents of Cerezales del Condado millionaires when he died aged 99.
The eccentric billionaire who helped build the Grupo Modelo group which produces Corona Extra beer has left £169m ($210m) to the sleepy village of 80 residents where he was born. Antonino Fernández died a billionaire aged 99 in August but he came from humble beginnings in the north-western Spanish province of Leon.
One of 13 children living in the tiny village of Cerezales del Condado, he was forced to quit school at the age of 14 because his parents could not afford the fees. And despite immigrating to Mexico in 1949 he never forgot his roots.
He was 32, when he left and went on to become the CEO of Grupo Modelo, the company which brews Corona beer. He spearheaded its remarkable success —the second most popular imported beer in the US as well as Mexico’s most popular beer.
Each villager inherited just over £2m ($2.49m) and Maximino Sanchez, who owns a bar in the village, told the local Diario de León newspaper: “We never had any pesete (money) before. I don’t know, what we would have done without Antonino.”
After moving to Mexico he married Cinia González Díez and began working for her uncle’s company, Grupo Modelo. By 1971 he was CEO of the company turning Corona into an export phenomenon. Corona Extra has an annual sales of $693m (£556m) in the US alone.
Under his will, the village will get a brand new cultural centre and a local non-profit foundation with 300 employees. And despite growing up in grinding poverty Fernández never forgot his motherland and was honoured by the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, for his charitable deeds.
He has created several philanthropic companies, one of them, known as Soltra, which offers employment to people with disabilities in his home village. A similar company, under his wife’s name Cinia, was set up in the Mexican state of Puebla. He also founded the Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia in Cerezales del Condado.