• Mark Tullett

El Gordo

Is the Spanish Christmas lottery, and yes I have a ticket (bought for me by my lovely friend Meritxell and Albert), so if the posts suddenly disappear you'll know it touched me (as we say here)



If you watch the live programme you will have four hours in front of the television with schoolchildren announcing hundreds of prizes with song that imitates that of the children of the San Ildefonso school. I have watched past of it on occasion, just to see the kids strange presentation. Here's the link to a small clip... https://youtu.be/s-vQ5hLHnLA I



The suspense is to see when the biggest prize, dubbed as El Gordo de Navidad (the Christmas fat one), will emerge. This is the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw, a tradition that for some people means the start of the festivities. The draw is held in the Theatre Real in Madrid, and has been broadcast live on TV since 1957.

It is typical for families and friends to share tickets or to buy many for different people. Many are sold in the workplace and bars etc - so all your friends or coworkers play the same number. The Spanish Christmas Lottery draw dates back from 1812, according to Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, the Spanish lottery operator. It was originally conceived as a Christmas draw, but the current denomination didn’t appear until 1892. Since the first draw was celebrated on 18 December 1812, the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw has never been cancelled. Even during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) it was celebrated. As a curiosity, in 1938 the raffle was carried out in duplicate: there was one in Burgos and another in Barcelona, organized by the Nationalist and Republican side, respectively. Nowadays it is celebrated on 22 December. The rules of the draw are very simple: there are two drums, one is filled with balls carrying numbers from 00000 to 99999 and the other one with about 1.800 prizes. That’s why it takes four hours to end. Most of the awards are 1000 euros per ticket (each ticket costs 20 euros), but there are also some special balls:

  • 8 balls for the fifth prize: 6.000 euros per ticket.

  • 2 for the fourth: 20.000 euros per ticket.

  • 1 for the third: 50.000 euros per ticket.

  • 1 for the second: 125.000 euros per ticket.

  • 1 for the first or El Gordo de Navidad: 400.000 euros per ticket.



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