El Gordo (the fat one) is the common name for the Spanish christmas lottery. Drawn each year just before christmas, on the 22nd December, it has the largest prize fund of any lottery in the world!
Whilst Spain spends more per head on gambling than anywhere else in the world it is not because they are habitual gamblers but simply that the chistmas lottery is a tradition in which the whole nation partakes!
Each ticket comes with a religous christmas scene that is changed every year. A short description of the event follows this and collecting losing lottery tickets is actually a hobby in Spain.
Unlike many modern lotteries in which you choose numbers and hope to match 3, 4 or 5 numbers, El gordo is still run along the lines of a traditional raffle in which you buy a ticket with a number already printed. Match the number on the ticket to that drawn and you win 1st prize... sounds simple?
In actual fact its not! To start with there are 85,000 different numbers and you do not buy a ticket rather a tenth of a ticket. Starting to get confused???.... It is better explained in a list!
- 85,000 numbers from 00001 to 85000
- Each number is given to 180 "Series"
- Each "Serie" is divided into 10 "Decimas"
- Each "decima" costs €20
Becoming a little clearer now? Altogether this brings in a total El gordo prize fund of 3,060,000,000€
, Thats over 3BILLION Euros!
El Gordo prizes!
With over €3 billion in the pot theres a lot of money available for prizes... Well not exactly as like any good government the Spanish government takes 30% for themselves! This leaves "just" €2.142 Billion for prizes.
A lot of money for prizes but then El gordo has a lot of prizes... 13,334 different prizes to be exact! Again a quick list is easier to explain than a narrative:
- 1st Prize - €3,000,000 per "serie" (€300,000 per "decima" applies to all)
- 2nd Prize - €1,000,000
- 3rd Prize - €500,000
- TWO 4th Prizes - €200,000
- EIGHT 5th Prizes - €50,000
- 1,774 6th prizes of €1,000
Thats the "Principal prizes" out of the way but there are also a whole host of secondary prizes on offer:
- 2 x €20,000 for the numbers either side of the 1st prize
- 2 x €12,500 for the numbers either side of the 2nd prize
- 2 x €9,600 for the numbers either side of the 2nd prize
- 99 x €1,000 for the numbers with the 1st three numbers that match the 1st prize
- 99 x €1,000 for the numbers with the 1st three numbers that match the 2nd prize
- 99 x €1,000 for the numbers with the 1st three numbers that match the 3rd prize
- 198 x €1,000 for the numbers with the 1st three numbers that match the 4th prizes
- 849 x €1,000 for the numbers with the last two numbers that match the 1st prize
- 849 x €1,000 for the numbers with the last two numbers that match the 2nd prize
- 849 x €1,000 for the numbers with the last two numbers that match the 3rd prize
- 8499 x €200 for the numbers with the last number that match the 1st prize
That is a lot of prizes!
On the morning of the 22nd of December each year Spain pretty much comes to a halt and the normal noise and chatter is replaced by the sound of children singing... Why? It is one of the strage traditions that each year children from a junior school are invited to "sing" the numbers as they are drawn.
El Gordo is drawn from two very large spherical cages. In one a ball for each number from 00001 - 85,000 is placed and in the other 1,787 balls representing the prizes. Over the course of the morning prizes and their corresponding numbers are drawn. By this means the tension / excitment lasts longer as the 1st prize, el gordo, is not necessarily the 1st number drawn!
From around mid september onwards, when the 1st el gordo tickets go on sale, clubs, societies, bars, offices and factories choose a number. This number will be purchased by everyone belonging to that organisation. The reasoning being that everyone can share in the joy or anguish that the 22nd December brings!
With €20 being a large amount, and as a means to raise funds, many organisation produce parts of "decimas". For example a charitable organisation will sell tickets at €2.50 in which €2 goes to the cost of the "decima" and €0.50 to the charity. Other organisations such as Unions and Bars will sell the tickets at €2.50 and not cover a donation.
Did you know El Gordo is also the name given to Real Madrids Ronaldo??? Find out more in Madrid Sport!
[Madrid Guide Spain - HOMEPAGE]