The Spanish National Lottery hosts the annual Spanish Christmas El Gordo Lottery – Lotería de Navidad every year on December 22nd, a super raffle that is supported by Spanish Government. In 2012, Loteria Nacional's flagship annual draw marked the 200th anniversary of the Spanish lotto tradition and was the first year that tickets went on sale at theLotter. The Christmas El Gordo is the year’s biggest lottery event and 70% of ticket sale revenues create an enormous prize fund! This year, players have the chance to take part in a €2.24 billion prize pool just in time for the Christmas season and New Year!
Lotería de Navidad History
Spain’s long history of lotteries began in 1763 with the La Primitiva lottery which was created by royal initiative to raise funds for the Spanish treasury. The lottery was enjoyed for 100 years and later returned in more modern times in the summer of 1985.
The special Lotería de Navidad Christmas El Gordo raffle began in 1812 and since has been quite an event for spectators. As the five-digit raffle codes are drawn from a set of lottery drums, the results are sung by students of the San Ildefonso School in front of an audience which has made it a custom to arrive dressed in lottery-related clothing to the extravagant event.
Lotería de Navidad Rules
The Spanish Christmas El Gordo Lottery offers the largest prize fund in the world with this year’s total prize pool standing on €2.24 billion. The upcoming December 22nd draw is expected to create more than 24 million winning tickets!
For this year’s raffle, 100,000 five-digit code tickets (billetes) will be printed in 160 identical copies. The codes are numbered from 00000-99999. Each ticket is made up of 10 shares (décimos). Tickets can be sold in whole or divided into shares. Follow this formula to understand how 160 million shares are available for players world-wide to win part of the unparalleled prize pool:
100,000 tickets * 160 copies * 10 shares = 160 million Lotería de Navidad shares
At the time of the raffle draw, which lasts about three hours, two spherical drums are used to pull the winning raffle numbers. The larger drum contains tens of thousands of small wooden balls with the five-digit codes imprinted on them. The smaller drum contains 1,807 wooden balls, each representing variations of the available prizes on it. A single ball is selected from each drum simultaneously to match each prize with one of the 100,000 ticket numbers.
The results are sung aloud by children of San Ildefonso School who practice for the event for months leading up to the drawing. One child sings aloud the winning five-digit number while the other sings the prize. The wooden balls are constructed like beads so that they can be inserted onto framed wires for presentation as the results are called.
Since the 2010 Lotería de Navidad - El Gordo, the lottery has undergone prize modifications which have increased the available prizes between 2010-2011: the 1st prize, Gordo, increased from €3 million to €4 million; the 2nd prize, Segundo, increased from €1 million to €1.25 million; and the 5th prize, Quintos, increased from €500,000 to €600,000. The most important increase in recent years was seen between 2011 and 2012 when the first prize jumped from €3 million to €4 million for a full ticket.
Winning the Lotería de Navidad
With winning odds beginning at 1:7, players have excellent odds of taking home a prize in the world’s biggest lottery! The Spanish Christmas Lottery - El Gordo jackpot of €4 million can easily be snatched up with incredible winning odds of 1:100,000. More than 24 million winning tickets in all of the lottery’s prize divisions are expected!
According to the press, about 98% of the adult Spanish population participate in the Lotería de Navidad each year, even if they hold on to just one share of a lottery ticket. On average, players in Spain hold €73 worth of Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets and many receive Christmas raffle shares and tickets as gifts from family members and acquaintances.
*As of 1st January 2013, Spanish lottery prizes that exceed €2,500 will be subject to a government legislated tax at a rate of 20%.
Lotería de Navidad Anecdotes
de Navidad Eve, de Navidad Morning - If the US takes Christmas shopping seriously (sales start as soon as Thanksgiving weekend is over), Spain takes its yuletide raffle even more so! Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets go on sale up to half a year before the draw itself, so you can imagine as December approaches excitement is boiling hot! At 11pm on December 21st a final inspection of the balls and selection globes is made before everyone leaves the hall. Three guardians, called claveros, hold the keys to the hall. At 8am local time on the morning of December 22nd the doors are opened to the public, with attendance limited only by the capacity of the hall. Half an hour later, dignitaries and Loteria Nacional authorities convene at their table to the side of the main draw. Once the draw starts at 9am, the hall buzzes with excitement until long after the final prize ball is matched to the final raffle number.
Vic’s glorious victory – As lottery outlets usually sell tickets from the same batch, many times large prize winners will belong to the same town, area or company. This was precisely the case in 2005 in Vic, Catalonia where the population is just 37,825! The residents of this small town shared in about €500 million in prizes, which turns out to approximately €300,000 per winning share.