The spectacle of Christmas Lotery in Spain

23 Dec 2020

What counts as a small pastime in England is an integral part of the culture in Spain during Christmas: the drawing of the lottery and the main prize "El Gordo" on December 22nd joy at Christmas time. But this is not just about money.

The Spanish Christmas lottery, Lotería de Navidad, is the largest lottery in the world. But if you only think of wasted money, you don't understand what it means for Spaniards: Spaniards usually participate in groups. And the chances of winning are not bad: of the 17 million tickets available for sale, more than 2.6 million will win, even if only because the stake is returned if the correct number is found.

A complete ticket (billete) with a five-digit winning number costs a full 200 euros, but often only a tenth ticket (décimo) is bought for 20 euros or even just a participation (participación) in it. Since there are 99,999 combinations possible with five numbers, there are just as many billetes.

El Gordo, the fat one, is the main prize in the Spanish lottery: with it you win a whole 4 million euros (400,000 euros per tenth ticket). The attraction here is that families, groups of friends and sometimes entire villages often rely on one and the same number.

With all the prizes, the draw at the Teatro Real in Madrid takes forever. There are two lottery drums set up there: one with the winning numbers, one with the prizes. Two children from the former orphanage and today's San Ildefonso school sing the numbers and prices. However, those who cannot withstand the chants, which can last up to 3 hours, can also find out online whether their lot is one of the winners.

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