El Gordo Christmas Lottery
Spain goes plain crazy over El Gordo. And no wonder - even in these days of big lottery jackpots, the El Gordo Christmas lottery makes all the others look like a lucky dip at the local school fair!
Massive El Gordo Prize Pool
The prize pot is always over a billion Euros... yes, a BILLION! The 2007 Christmas draw paid out a stunning €3.2 Billion Euros. El Gordo 2008 was around €2.3 Billion. With 2011 paying out over €2.52 Billion!
Well 2012 is already set to pay prizes totalling an incredible €2.5 Billion. Insane.
The most exciting thing about a prize pool of this size, is that the number of jackpot prizes is far greater than any normal sane lottery draw. Here you get literally hundreds of jackpots! These are just the bigger prizes for 2012:-
- 180 €4 Million prizes
- 180 €1.25 Million prizes
- 180 €500,000 prizes
- 360 €200,000 prizes
- 1,440 €60,000 prizes
You can then win so many €1,000 prizes (in numerous different ways) that it's hard to imagine not winning one..! Seriously - they will pay out 322,920 different prizes of €1,000.
And then there's another 11 prize tiers below that one too - with a total of over 2.75 million actual prizes paid out. Plain nuts - which is why Spain loves this draw so much.
(If you want to play, the easiest way by far, outside of Spain, is with a syndicate. Head here to find the latest Spanish lottery syndicates)
El Gordo Christmas Draw
The actual draw for El Gordo brings Spain to a stop each Christmas. Every bar and living room with a TV is surrounded by excited Spanish people clutching their tickets.
It makes odd viewing the first time you see it. But the draw is conducted according to a tradition getting on for two hundred years old now.
Small wooden balls are drawn from two large golden cages. The larger one contains all the possible numbers from the draw, and the smaller the actual prizes they win. So a number is drawn, and then the prize that number wins.
(You can imagine the heart stopping moment when your number is drawn, and then you wait to find if you won a thousand Euros or a few million!)
As you can see in this brief video, the draw is conducted with help from the children of San Ildefonso school in Madrid. They take it in turns to draw balls and then sing out the winning numbers and the prizes. This whole process goes on for an amazing 3 hours, avidly watched by the 98% of Spanish people who play every El Gordo Christmas lottery draw.
Playing El Gordo
To continue the 'unusual' theme... as the video shows, specific 5 digit numbers are actually drawn from the machine. This lottery works using a large number of 5 digit balls, instead of e.g. 1 to 49 like most lotteries.
So when you buy a ticket you are given a specific number, e.g. 21608. There is some room to pick preferred numbers, and indeed some numbers are apparently reserved and passed down through generations of families!
There is also a limited supply - so each number only appears on ten tickets. Making certain numbers even more treasured by the very superstitious Spanish people.
And You Can Buy Part Of a Ticket...
Each ticket can actually be broken down into 10 'decimos'. Kind of like a sub-ticket. So you can buy just one decimo or 10 if you want the whole ticket. Prizes are split between all holders of the decimos for each numbered ticket.
Buying El Gordo Tickets
Outside of Spain it can be tricky to get tickets. Epecially at a fair price, where most online sellers are more than happy to charge up to 5 times the normal ticket price! Looks to me like 'OSA Lotteries' (Overseas Subscribers Agents) for example are currently charging SEVEN TIMES the ticket price, which is truly awful and to be avoided.
Charging extra is of course fine, within reason, as there are costs to cover. So always look closely at what you are getting for your money (a single decimo normally costs about €20 in Spain). Or play in a reliable syndicate where you can be sure you get the expertise, and value for money.
Go here for Spanish lottery syndicates.
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