Spain’s Christmas Lottery (El Gordo Spain Lottery) (officially named "Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad" or just "Lotería de Navidad" is a special draw of the Lotería Nacional, the weekly national lottery organised by Spain's state-owned Loterías y Apuestas del Estado. The El Gordo lottery draw takes place every December 22nd and it is by far the largest and most popular lottery draw of the year.
Lotería Nacional, held its first draw on 4th March 1812 and is the second-longest running lottery in the World. The first Christmas draw was held on 18th December 1812 in Cádiz. The first time that the name Sorteo de Navidad was used was in 1892.
With its total prize payout, the Spanish Christmas Lottery is considered the biggest lottery draw worldwide. In 2017, it had 165 million worth of pre-printed €20 tickets to sell (décimos), reaching a total prize pool of €2.31 billion (70% of ticket sales). The grand prize for El Gordo ("the big one") would reach an astonishing €720 million.
All Lotería Nacional draws have 5-digit numbers, from 00000 to 99999 and the Christmas draw is based on tickets (billetes). The system only produces 100,000 unique ticket numbers, therefore each ticket number is printed multiple times called series (series). The series is then identified on each ticket by a unique number. With this system, it is possible to sell more than 100,000 tickets each year, numbered from "Series 001 Ticket 00000" through "Series xxx Ticket 99999", where xxx is the total number of series printed in a given year.
For example, in 2019, there were 170 series of 100,000 tickets each, for a total of 17,000,000 tickets printed at €200 each. If all €3.4 billion tickets were sold, there would be €2.38 billion (70% of ticket sales) available for prizes.
Because the €200 El Gordo Lottery ticket price may be too expensive for many lotto players, each of the pre-printed tickets is a perforated tear-apart sheet of 10 identical sub-tickets (or fractions). These are each sold for €20 each, a more affordable prize. Each one of these fractions is known as a décimo (one-tenth). Each décimo is entitled to 10% of any prize that the ticket wins.
Tickets are officially sold in official lottery shops (administraciones) around Spain as well as by licensed (and unlicensed) sellers on the street. Usually, the same shop will sell a ticket number in all series, which means all the winners of that ticket will have purchased their tickets in that location. This sometimes results in a small village winning the grand prize. Towns and even a shop in particular where previous grand prize winners were sold, will then becomes a location of lottery pilgrimage. Thousands of people will travel there and queue to buy their ticket at this location "for luck". People can also bet online on the outcome of El Gordo Spain Lottery draw through any of our recommended online lotto sites.
Privately; charities, workplaces, sports teams, cafés, shops, and other organizations, will also purchase a fraction of a ticket, called "Una participación" (a share). Organizations purchase these fractions (a one-tenth ticket) and divide them further into fractions of fractions and sell them on. Fractions of fractions (shares) are agreed by writing the ticket number and the amount paid on a piece of paper (possibly on a photocopy of the ticket) and then signed. The paper is a legal contract in Spain and proof of participation in the ticket. If the ticket is a winner, holders of these fractions of fractions are entitled to their share of the prize payout.
The odds of winning a prize in the El Gordo Spain Lottery are 1:6.5.
The El Gordo Lottery draw usually takes place on 22nd December at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Other locations where it's previously been held include the Lotería Nacional hall in Madrid and the Palacio Municipal de Congresos de Madrid. Pupils of the San Ildefonso school (formerly reserved for orphans of public servants) sing the numbers and corresponding prizes. It is common practive that winners donate some money to the San Ildefonso school. The draw is aired on state-run Televisión Española and Radio Nacional de España and other media outlets. Two large spherical cages are used. The largest one contains 100,000 small wooden balls, each with a unique 5-digit ticket number on it, from 00000 to 99999. The smaller cage contains 1,807 small wooden balls, each one representing a prize written in Euros:
1,794 balls for the small prizes are called la Pedrea, literally "the pebble-avalanche" or "stoning".
As the drawing takes place, a single ball is extracted from each of the revolving spheres at the same time. One child sings the winning number, the other child sings the corresponding prize. This is repeated until the smaller cage (the prize-balls) has been emptied. Given the number of prizes, the complete drawings of numbers takes a long time therefore, these children work in shifts.
El Gordo Spain Lottery balls all have holes on them so they can be placed onto long wires once called. These are then stored in frames for later presentation. When a major prize is drawn, both children pause, sing the prize and ticket number multiple times and show the balls to a committee and a fixed camera, all before being inserted into a frame as the others. As a tradition, the children who draw the higher prizes are applauded by the public viewing the draw. Unfortunately this year due to Covid-19, there will be greater restrictions on how and who will be able to view the draw live.
The exciting part of the draw is when El Gordo is drawn. Lottery outlets usually only sell tickets for one or two numbers, this means the winners of the largest prizes live in the same town or area or work for the same company. Now with the option to bet on the outcome of El Gordo lottery, you can bet on as many numbers as you wish. In 2011, El Gordo was sold in Grañén, Huesca. In 2010, €414 million from the first prize were sold in Barcelona, and the rest of the €585 million of El Gordo was distributed between Madrid, Tenerife, Alicante, Palencia, Zaragoza, Cáceres, and Guipúzcoa. In 2006, the winning number was spread amongst eight different lottery outlets throughout Spain, while the second prize (€100,000 per décimo) was sold from a kiosk on the Puerta del Sol in central Madrid. In 2005, the winning number was sold in the town of Vic in Catalonia with a population of 37,825, whose inhabitants shared around €500 million (€300,000 per winning décimo).
What are you waiting for, take a chance at this magnificent draw El Gordo Spain Lottery and stand a chance of winning one of World's Largest Lottery Prizes.