Referred to as ‘El Gordo,’ Spain’s Christmas lottery, held annually on December 22, distributes a staggering $2.86 billion in prizes. The tradition, dating back over two centuries, involves school children singing out winning numbers at Madrid’s Teatro Real opera house, captivating millions across the nation. While the top prize is €400,000, the allure lies in the widespread sharing of tickets among families and friends, fostering a cherished pre-Christmas tradition.
Spain’s renowned Christmas lottery, affectionately known as ‘El Gordo’ or ‘The Fat One,’ is set to lavish close to $3 billion in prizes this year. The eagerly anticipated draw, broadcast from Madrid’s Teatro Real opera house, unfolded with students from Madrid’s San Ildefonso school melodically announcing the winning numbers.
This longstanding tradition, dating back over two centuries, marks the beginning of the festive season in Spain. With a prize pool totaling 2.6 billion euros ($2.86 billion), the lottery, although offering smaller individual sums, captures the nation’s excitement as winning announcements are sung out in customary fashion.Families and friends enthusiastically engage in the tradition, purchasing and sharing tickets in anticipation of the holiday season.
Bars, sports clubs, and streets come alive with the joyous spirit of the lottery.At the heart of this event are the school children in Madrid, drawing numbers from 100,000 small wooden balls within two grand golden rolling drums. Their melodic recital of ticket numbers and their corresponding prizes is a beloved and widely recognized ritual throughout Spain.
Lasting approximately three and a half hours, the event culminates in the highly coveted ‘El Gordo’ jackpot being called out, leaving ticket holders in eager anticipation.Despite other lotteries boasting larger individual top prizes,
‘El Gordo,’ an annual affair held on December 22, reigns supreme as the world’s richest lottery in terms of the overall prize money involved.Spain’s national lottery, initially established as a charity in 1763 during the reign of King Carlos III, evolved its purpose to support the state treasury.
Since its inception in 1812, the December 22 lottery has retained its tradition of children singing out the prizes, becoming an integral part of Spain’s cultural heritage.