If you already know about El Gordo Navidad
and just want to buy your tickets
The El Gordo lottery started in 1812 and takes place once a year on 22 December. 90% of Spain plays El Gordo. They’re so obsessed that they spend an average of €75 on tickets. Starting 200 years ago in 1812, it is the biggest lottery in the world, making over 300 millionaires, and bestowing great wealth upon entire towns. According to estimates, you have a 1 in 3 chance of winning something. This year’s total prize money is over €2.3 billion.
Some fun facts about the El Gordo lottery:
Last year the 1st prize ticket number 58268 paid out €400,000 per décimo ticket. All the 1800 winning tickets in the series of the winning ticket were sold in a tiny village called Grañén in the north eastern Huesca province of Spain, who won a combined 720 million euros for the first prize of El Gordo 2011.
The numbering system itself is quite complex. You don’t pick your own numbers. For El Gordo you buy a pre-printed ticket.
There were 85,000 different numbers in the Christmas 2006 El Gordo Lottery. Each ticket number has a picture of a nativity scene, which changes every year.
On 22nd December every year the winning numbers are drawn. This happens live on Spanish national TV in a tradition that dates many years. Not as far as El Gordo obviously which dates back to 1812.
It’s possible to win up to 7 times on a single ticket.
It’s a winner-maker: The game was designed to make as many winners as possible. Family members often buy tickets together. Occasionally, whole villages find themselves wealthier after the draw.
From 09.00 in the morning of the 22nd December 2011 forty children aged 8 to 14 years old from the school “Colegio de San Ildefonso” in Segovia – called “Los niños de San Ildefonso” – pick out small wooden numbered balls out of two big golden drums that contain 100.000 numbers. The children sing out the numbers and prizes one by one. The ceremony takes place at the “Palacio de Congresos de Madrid” and takes about three hours.
An El Gordo ticket (billete) has a pre-printed a 5-digit number. Each ticket number has multiple series’ or sets of the same ticket number The exact quantity of tickets and series, as well as their price and the exact distribution of prizes, vary from year to year.
Ticket Example: In 2004 there were 66,000 different ticket numbers in 195 series’. In 2005, there were 85,000 ticket numbers in 170 series’ In 2006 there were 85,000 ticket numbers but in 180 series.’ A series is like an A4 sheet with 10 smaller tickets on it. (see illustration above). Each ticket sheet is divided into ten smaller tickets called “décimos”. Most people buy a “décimo,” which like a full lottery ticket, but as explained above, a “décimo” is technically a tenth of a ticket.
How The Prizes Work: The first prize of El Gordo goes to a single winning number. In 2006 the winning number was 20297 and the prize amount was 3 million euros. There were 180 series’ of the number 20297,so the 3 million was paid out 180 times to a full sheet or ticket with that number. So the total payout to the first prize number of 180 x 3 million = 540 million euros. Anyone holding a tenth of a ticket, a “décimo” of the number 20297 in 2006 won the corresponding amount of the 3 million prize for each ticket in the series. So a “décimo” – a tenth of the number 20297 won € 300,000 in 2006. In 2011 however the biggest winning number will get 4 million euros so a “décimo” will be worth 400.000 euros. The total prize money spread across just over 15,000 winning tickets is 2,520,000,000 euros or 2500 million euros.
Essentially there is no real difference between buying the same numbers or different numbers. It boils down 1) to superstition and 2) to the fact that Billete’s and Decimos are often distributed geographically, meaning if your numbers come up, the likelihood is that there will be multiple winners from the same location as you. As far as the odds are concerned, each number has the same chance of being drawn, so it is more about personal preference. If you were to purchase a full Billete (ten numbers) that are the same, you effectively hold all ten tenths of the prize awarded to that number. Each individual decimo stand to win one tenth of the prize awarded to that number.
Winning Numbers: There are many superstitions and traditions about how to pick the winning number. Many people repeat their “lucky” numbers and certain numbers sell out quickly like the dates of weddings of celebrites etc. Or numbers that have won before. Many people, companies, bars, and charities buy one or more “décimos” and sell it off in parts to colleagues, friends, customers etc. Parts of “décimos” are called “participaciones.” In Spain when someone wins the lottery, it’s a happy ending for all. The prize money is spread around the whole family. You will always see TV pictures of a whole village or neighbourhood every 22nd December dancing, hugging, kissing and drinking Cava! They have all won the Spanish Christmas Lottery, El Gordo!
How To Buy El Gordo Tickets If You Are Not In Spain: Anyone in the world can share in this exciting Spanish tradition. You can buy tickets online here and join the El Gordo madness!
Remember, you have a roughly 3 in 1 chance of winning. 90% of Spain play this and they spend an average of €75 each on tickets as they’re bound to win something, even if it is just to cover their ticket purchase price.
So there you have it – the most famous, biggest, easiest to win lottery in the world is upon us, and now you can join in the excitement with 90% of the Spanish population! Click here to buy your tickets and get your El Gordo Navidad on!
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