Jaime Camil from the CBS Original Series LOTERIA LOCA, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Fernando Marrero/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

INTERVIEW: Jaime Camil Talks About How Lotería is ‘Imprinted in Our DNA’

Photo: Fernando Marrero/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

If you grew up in a Mexican household, chances are good that you’ve played Lotería a few times in your life and that El Borracho, El Diablito, and La Sirena are as familiar to you as any other traditions you’ve ever shared with your family. This tradition is at the heart of the newest game show hosted by Mexican actor and singer Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin).

In the new CBS television game show Lotería Loca contestants compete for a chance to win a grand prize of $1 million. And with Camil as host, he’s also hoping it finds a new audience.

“I would say 80 percent of Latin Americans own a Lotería set,” Camil, 50, told Remezcla during a recent interview. “It’s pretty much imprinted in our DNA.”

So, what is it about Lotería that resonates so much with Mexican families in comparison to other games like Monopoly or Scrabble? Camil said it begins with the game’s history.

“Lotería has been around for 400 years,” he said. “It started in Italy, but Mexicans and Latin Americans have made the game their own. I think the heritage it has with our culture and its story makes it very special to our people.”

While the rules of Lotería stay the same no matter where you’re playing it, there are a few elements of the game that can change from house to house. For example, some families will alter which patterns constitute a win (some only allow horizontal and diagonal lines). Then, there are the items that players use to cover their Lotería cards. Some families use pennies. Others use bottle caps or raw pinto beans.

“I have a very vivid memory of playing with beans,” Camil said. “Someone would always get up to get a glass of water and accidentally move all the beans off the [Lotería cards], and we’d have to read through all the cards again, so we could reposition our beans.”

Along with the excitement of playing the game itself, Lotería Loca also elevates the Latine culture with plenty of Latine representation like mariachis, traditional dancers, and music by singer and drummer Sheila E., who is Mexican, Black and French Creole. This week, the show featured a Dia de Muertos-themed episode. As host, it was important to Camil to stay authentic at all times.

“A big conversation I had with the [creators] was that I didn’t want to mock, patronize or present our culture in a caricature-like way,” Camil said. “I didn’t want to do the show at Señor Frogs in Cancún while on spring break.”

Still, Camil knew for the game show to be successful, they had to find a way to make it appeal to a mainstream audience who didn’t necessarily speak Spanish or hadn’t even played Lotería before. He was open to all creative ideas just as long as they didn’t insult the Latine culture. In the end, Camil feels Lotería Loca is for everyone.

“All our decisions were very thoughtful and very finely tuned,” Camil said. “With Lotería Loca, we’re breaking the mold of what the mainstream market expects from a primetime American show. This is history in the making.”

New episodes of Lotería Loca, hosted by Jaime Camil, are currently on hold by CBS due to low ratings effective immediately with a Holiday episode coming this Christmas and subsequent episodes “at a later date.”