Tiny Spanish village mourns death of their most famous son who became the billionaire behind Corona beer – even if he didn’t leave them millions each in his will
He may not have made each residents of the of village he grew up an overnight millionaire but the man behind Corona beer has left a lasting legacy in his birthplace.
Antonio Fernandez, who went on to become the CEO of Grupo Modelo, the brewery company who make the popular beer died a billionaire aged 99 in August.
The 77 residents in the tiny Spanish village of Cerezales del Condado were left perplexed by news articles claiming the billionaire had left each of them a share of his enormous fortune for living in his birthplace.
Villagers confirmed the fairy tale was not entirely accurate, as he had left the money to his family in his will.
Fernández (pictured) was responsible for the construction of the giant brewery in Guadalajara which is where Corona is still brewed
Antonino Fernández (pictured in Cerezales del Condado) remained faithful to the village he grew up in
‘It’s simply not true, unfortunately,’ Lucia Alaejos from the Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia told The Local in Spain.
‘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.’
Although the beer tycoon had no children of his own, he was one of 13 siblings and his fortune has been handed to his extended family.
‘Many of them still visit for some months each summer, so it is great for the village and keeps it alive,’ Alaejos said, according to The Local.
‘But the villagers won’t be sharing in that inheritance directly.’
So, villagers may not be rolling in cash overnight, but Fernandez’s impact on the place he grew up has outlived him.
Every summer he would visit, and he paid for the restoration of the church and square, brought running water to every home in the town, funded the resurfacing of roads and founded a cultural centre for the village.
Fernández was honored by the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, for his charitable deeds
Fernández married Cinia González Díez, whose uncle owned the Grupo Modelo brewery
Maximino Sanchez, owner of the village’s only bar – which only stocks Grupo Modelo beers – told local newspaper Diario de León: ‘I do not know what we would have done without Antonino. We used to have no money.’
Fernandez’ fortune was believed to be the equivalent to each villager inheriting roughly £2million.
Fernández was born in 1917 into grinding poverty and at the age of 14 he had to leave school because his parents could not afford the fees.
After the Spanish Civil War he moved to Northern Spain, where he married his wife Cinia González Díez.
In 1949, his wife’s uncle, who owned Grupo Modelo, invited the couple to move to Mexico, where Fernández began working for the brewery, as a warehouse employee.
He worked his way up through the ranks, and by 1971 he had risen to CEO and he helped make 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.
His nephew Carlos Fernández González took over as CEO of Modelo
He also remained as the Honorary Life Chairman of Grupo Modelo until his death.
Corona Extra is the second most imported bottled beer in the United States, with annual sales of $693million (£556million).
Every summer he would visit Cerezales del Condado and he paid for the restoration of the church and square, brought running water to every home in the town, funded the resurfacing of roads and founded a cultural centre for the village
Antonino Fernandez, right, with Justino Compean, left, President of Mexican Soccer Federation, and Angel Maria Villar, centre, of the Spanish Royal Soccer Federation. A friendly match was held between the national teams at Grupo Modelo
Fernández was also a well-known philanthropist who never forgot his motherland and was honoured by the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, for his charitable deeds, including his work with disabled young people.
He established an organisation in Leon called Soltra, which offers employments opportunities to disabled people, as well as a similar company named after his wife, Cinia, which operates in Mexico.
He also set up the ‘Cerezales Antonino y Cinia’ Foundation in his hometown in 2009, to support rural initiatives in the area.
His death was reported by the local paper Diario de León, stating he would leave his fortune for to family.
The story was picked up and seemingly misinterpreted by German newspaper Welt, who reported the villagers would be getting the money.
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