They say Spain’s annual Christmas Lottery is the richest in the world, distributing more than 2 Billion Euros, or 3 Billion U.S. Dollars, all taking place this coming Sunday, 22nd of December. TVE1 coverage starts at 8am and the whole lottery drawing process can last until 11:30am.
While 2 Billion Euros are handed out, it’s a very broad dispersment. The BIG prize, “El Gordo“, will carry a grand prize of 4 Billion Euros – if you hold all 10-tickets in the series. Tickets are sold in “décimos“, or “one-tenths“, so if you bought just one of those 10-tickets in the series you’d walk away with just 400,000 Euros – before taxes.
Most people buy the “décimos” and gift them to friends and family as Christmas presents. I always buy a few décimos every year and send an email with the “gift name list” and a scanned copy of the tickets. That way, if the winning number is called, everyone knows who won, how much they won, and with whom they must share the winnings.
I say it every year, while the Christmas lottery is the biggest in the world in total distribution, holding the 10-ticket series for the number called “El Gordo” will only win you 4 Million Euros – which is about the twice-a-week total for my Ohio state’s lottery winning per ticket in the USA. So if there are two lotteries a week in Ohio worth 4 million U.S. Dollars each (almost 3 million Euros), that’s 104 four-million-dollar lottery tickets per year. Now THOSE are lottery winnings. But alas, the USA is a bigger, richer country.
Even if you don’t win “El Gordo“, “The Fat One“, you might win any number of the hundreds of other smaller winners. You won’t be able to retire with those winnings, or even buy a new house, but you could possibly take a nice vacation or enjoy a fancy dinner, but little else. Every time I see people dancing in the street with their winning tickets, popping corks on Cava/Champagne, singing victory songs, I think, “Man! All this celebration and they can’t even retire!”
Different lottery commission stands or outlets have their own reputations, too. Some are considered “lucky” because they may have doled-out more winning tickets than others. Those stands/outlets which have been around the longest, those which have history, tend to be the most popular. The ONE and only which comes to mind is the “Doña Manolita” stand (pictured) on the pedestrian street Calle del Carmen, just downhill from El Corte Inglés department store and the FNAC store from the Plaza de Callao in Madrid. “Doña Manolita” always has long lines to buy the tickets from their shop as it’s not only historical (since 1904), but has also sold among the most “El Gordo” tickets along that time.
I didn’t wait for the 45-minutes+ to get my ticket at Doña Manolita in downtown Madrid, but I did get it at my neighborhood lottery ticket office with no lines – and I ‘feel’ just as lucky as those which braved the cold and boredom to ‘improve‘ their chances. When you choose your décimo, you can ask the clerk for a random ticket or you can ask for tickets starting with ‘X’ or ending in ‘X’ with the numbers of your choice. You can also choose exact numbers, whichever you find lucky and assuming they’re available at that particular stand.
So Sunday morning’s the day, the 22nd of December as always, when people sit semi-glued to their TVs to hear the uniform-wearing school children from “El Colegio de San Ildefonso” singing out the numbered balls as they drop from the huge tumblers. (see video below of the 2012 “El Gordo”) The large tumbler carries 85,000 numbered, wooden balls and those are matched with 2,000 numbered, wooden balls which carry the price amount. Admittedly, after an hour – or two of hearing the children singing this repetitive song, it can get tiresome – UNLESS you win, of course!!
Best of luck!
Watch online live at http://www.rtve.es/sorteos/loteria-navidad/directo/
Check winning numbers at http://loteria-navidad.rtve.es/
Previous blog entries about Spain’s Christmas Lottery for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012.
2013 Video of the Winning “El Gordo” Prize:
Official 2013 Spanish Lottery Video: