Written By: Matt Laud
Christmas is fast approaching, and that doesn’t just mean that it’s time to sing carols and exchange gifts. The festive season also means that this year’s Spanish Christmas Lottery, or El Gordo, will soon be taking place, giving some lucky winners millions of Euros – right before Christmas.
What is it?
The lottery’s official name is the “Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad”, or the “Extraordinary Christmas Draw. It’s also referred to as “El Gordo”, or “the big one”, which refers to the lottery’s grand prize – a payout worth around €4 million.
The lottery started out in 1812, and has been running every year since, even throughout both world wars and the Spanish Civil War. This makes it the world’s second-longest continuously running lottery behind the Dutch Staatsloterij, which has been running since 1726. However, El Gordo does hold the record of the world’s biggest lottery, with a total prize fund of €2.3 billion up for grabs for the lucky winners.
How does it work?
Unlike most other lotteries, El Gordo has expensive tickets – the cost of just a single ticket is €200. Most people buy a tenth of a ticket, or a decimo, for €20, instead.
People often pool their resources with family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers to buy a whole ticket, and share out the winnings accordingly. Some divide the tickets up into even smaller fractions, so more people have a chance to play – sometimes, a whole village will win together.
It’s estimated that 75% of Spanish adults play the Christmas Lottery El Gordo, which is partly due to the odds of winning. Anyone who gets a ticket has a one in seven chance of winning, with prizes ranging from €1,000 to €4 million.
When are the winners announced?
The winners are always announced at the El Gordo draw, which takes place on the morning of the 22nd December every year, at the Teatro Real in Madrid. The event is televised live, with the numbers drawn by children from a nearby school.
The draw goes on until all of the prizes are given out, and because there are so many to be won, the draw can take up to three hours. Since families, friends, and colleagues will often buy tickets together, they gather together to watch the draw, making it a popular social occasion.
How can you enter?
The first tickets go on sale in the summer, so if you want to enter, then you don’t have to be in Spain in December. If you’re in Spain, then you can visit the nearest Loteria Nacional office, where you can either buy a ticket or a decimo and share the winnings with whoever else bought the rest of the ticket.
You don’t have to go to Spain to get a ticket, though, as some are available online. You can also place bets on the outcome of the draw. Don’t worry if you don’t win, though, as there’s another festive lottery a few weeks later on January 5th or on Three Kings’ Day in Spain.
As the biggest lottery in the world, El Gordo is also one of the most exciting. Even if you don’t win, watching it all on TV and just being part of it is part of the fun.