It’s true that the sleepy Spanish village of Cerezales del Condado owes a huge debt of gratitude to Antonino Fernandez, the billionaire founder of the Corona brewery who died on August 31st at the age of 98.
The tiny hamlet in Castile-Leon had the good fortune of being the birthplace of the man who went on to run the Mexican brewery responsible for Corona and he never forgot his roots
But news this week that he had left every single resident of the village some €2 million each is sadly not true.
The story was published on the Daily Mail on Thursday and was quickly picked up by other media including The Daily Telegraph, Independent Online and Time magazine and was even mentioned on the BBC’s Today programme.
Corona beer owner makes hometown villagers millionaires in will | Daily Mail Online http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3968880/Billionaire-founder-Corona-beer-brewery-makes-Spanish-village-grew-MILLIONAIRE-will.html …
But those in the village were bewildered at the international attention.
“It’s simply not true, unfortunately,” said Lucia Alaejos from the Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia, the cultural center founded in the village thanks to the patronage of the Corona founder.
“It seems someone got the wrong end of the stick and the story has just grown and grown. It’s got completely out of hand.”
She confirmed that Fernandez, who was one of 13 siblings and had no children of his own, had left part of his huge fortune to the descendants of his siblings.
“Many of them still visit for some months each summer, so it is great for the village and keeps it alive,” she confirmed. “But the villagers won’t be sharing in that inheritance directly.”
The total inheritance left to those relatives in Spain is reported to be around €200 million.
“That inheritance is a private matter for the family.”
But she did say that the village owes much to the son who moved to Mexico in 1949 and took a job at the brewery belonging to his wife’s family.
“He never forgot his roots and would visit his homeland every summer,” Alaejos said. “Thanks to his generosity, the town is much better off than many in the region.”
“He paid for the restoration of the church, he brought running water to every home in the town and thanks to him, we have an amazing cultural center that brings visitors to the region.”
Maximino Sanchez, the owner of the only bar in the village, told the local newspaper Diario de León: “I do not know what we would have done without Antonino. We used to have no money.”
Born in 1917, in what the local paper Diario de Leon described as “poverty”, Fernandez, the eleventh child of 13 left school at the age of 14. In 1949 he was offered a job in Mexico to work in the warehouse for his wife’s uncle at Grupo Modelo.
He worked his way up through the ranks, and by 1971 he had risen to CEO.
He is credited with having made 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 until 1997 and as Chairman of the Board until 2005, with both roles later taken over by his nephew Carlos Fernández González.
In 2008, the village opened theFundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia, a cultural centre build entirely on his donation.
Next spring, the foundation will open a new building designed by the architects Alejandro Zaera Polo and Maider Llaguno.
“While he was still alive he set up a fund for the continuing work of the foundation,” explained Alaejos. “So we do have a lot to be grateful for.”