El Gordo is a Spanish lottery that is always drawn on December 22. More and more people outside Spain nowadays buy a ticket, or part of a ticket, for this lottery, for example when they are on holiday in the country. You can also buy these tickets online. But why would you necessarily want to buy a ticket for this Spanish lottery, especially if you are not Spanish yourself?
How to play El Gordo
Each bet on El Gordo de La Primitiva consists of selecting five numbers from a table of 54 numbers (numbers from 1 to 54) and one number from a table of 10 numbers (numbers from 0 to 9) (key number). La Quiniela keeps 55% of the total proceeds as prizes. Players do not choose their own numbers; they can take numbers from 00000 to 99999.
What is El Gordo? And why is this so special?
The Spanish El Gordo Loteria Nacional is a world-famous lottery. The fact it takes place during Christmas makes this a very special lottery. The Lotería Nacional Christmas draw takes place on December 22 every year. This lottery has many names, including ‘Lotería de Navidad’ (Christmas lottery) and ‘Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad’(special Christmas draw). The Spanish people call it ‘El Gordo’, which means ‘the fat’. This funny nickname was given because of the very high Jackpot of the lottery.
The unique thing about this lottery is that the big prizes are often split between several winning tickets. This means that many people in Spain win big prizes together, which adds to the joy during the Christmas season.
The draw is also conducted by children in a traditional way with lotto balls made of wood.
Lotto balls made of wood
The lotto balls and drawing machines for the El Gordo lottery are part of a strictly controlled and secure process. The balls are usually made of wood and are carefully inspected to ensure they are all equal in size and weight. They are painted with the relevant numbers to ensure a fair draw. The draw itself is a big event and is conducted with a high degree of transparency, often in front of an audience and various officials to ensure fairness.
Can I choose my own lottery numbers in this lottery?
The Spanish lottery “El Gordo” does not usually allow you to choose the numbers yourself, as some other lotteries do. Instead, lottery numbers are randomly assigned to tickets sold. The numbers are pre-printed on the ticket and each five-digit combination is unique.
This means that your only choice as a player is which ticket or “Décimo” (smaller part of the ticket) you want to buy. You decide how many parts (Décimos) you want to buy from the whole lot, but the numbers on these Décimos are already fixed.
The concept of randomly assigning numbers is one of the features of the “El Gordo” lottery, which contributes to its unique and traditional character. These issues are usually printed and distributed in advance through official channels, and players then choose which Décimos to buy based on availability.
While you cannot choose specific numbers, this also means that everyone has the same chance of winning, as lottery numbers are allocated completely randomly. The excitement and anticipation of the 22 December draw have made the “El Gordo” lottery a beloved tradition in Spain and beyond.
Spanish Lotto tradition
El Gordo Loteria Nacional is an important tradition in Spain. Most parts of the lottery have stayed the same over the years, including the singing orphans. However, some things have changed as well. For example, nowadays the draw takes place with an automatic system. In the past the lottery used numbers printed on paper. The name ‘Loteriá de Navadid’ wasn’t used at the beginning. It has actually been known as the Christmas draw since 1892. Five years later this name was also printed on the lottery tickets. El Gordo is known for the very high cash prizes, which are free from tax. About 70 percent of the entire deposit is prize money. The other part is donated to charity, which is annually about 1 billion euros a year!
Division between prize money and charity
This special lottery is organized by the Spanish government and run by the ‘S.L Loterías y Apuestas del Estado’. This organization is also responsible for the weekly draws of the National Lottery. They also organize the ‘El Gordo de Verano’ in the first week of July. This nickname means ‘the fat of the summer’ and offers big prize money as well. Last, but not least, a special draw called ‘El Niño’ (the child) takes place on January 6. It refers to the prize pool that is much smaller than that of El Gordo.
Draw on 22 december live on television
Millions of Spanish people are looking forward to El Gordo every day. It’s a big spectacle you can’t miss! It attracts many people because they can also play together. Every year entire villages are buying El Gordo lottery tickets together. You can already purchase a ticket in July! At the end of the year the tension in Spain definitely rises. Not only for the locals, but for people abroad as well. The tickets of El Gordo are also available for people abroad.
December 22 is a very exciting day for lottery players in Spain and abroad. At 8 am El Gordo begins officially! When the audience is seated the president and the notary are installed at 8.30. Almost the entire Spanish population is watching the results on this day. It’s broadcasted live by the Spanish television channel TVE. You can also watch the results on the TVE website and on the national radio RNE.
The El Gordo draw
The El Gordo draw takes place with an automatic systems in which the balls are guided to sealed tubes. The singing orphans of the Colegio de San Ildefonso then have the task to remove the balls from the tubes. The El Gordo draw uses two balls from two different tubes. Two children are there to make this happen. One of them sings the numbers that are drawn, while the other one announces the prize. Most of the time this is about 1000.000 euros. A ball with a grand prize will be brought to the president and shown to the public.
The winners Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad
The Christmas draw takes place all day. Not surprisingly if you know the number of balls that are drawn per series. 200 in total! The singing orphans place the balls on two poles. When these are full, the balls will be placed in a box and given to a notary. Then the two children will be replaced by new ones. The winners are announced by a list of names and addresses. They appear 45 minutes after the last draw. Fábricia Nacional de Moneda y Timbre is responsible for making and spreading this important list. Of course they’re very proud of that. The big winners are known at noon. They have national fame immediately, because all of them have to do an interview on the national radio.
Ticket prize Lottery Spain
You can purchase a ticket for El Gordo in several stores in Spain, or online at the website of the National Lottery. For foreigners this website is available in English as well. Don’t be scared by the high prize of the lottery ticket, namely 200 euros. Most people divide it into ten parts. The Spanish call this 1/10 ticket the ‘décimo’. It costs a tenth of the price of a whole lot, so it’s much cheaper. You pay 20 euros to participate in this exciting lottery. 20 euros is definitely worth it if you win a big prize!
For the lottery to run smoothly, there is a lot to do in terms of organisation. For instance, the lottery tickets are divided into series. Each lottery number appears once in each series. You can buy whole lottery tickets, but much more popular are the tenth lottery tickets, called décimo in Spanish.
The organisation behind El Gordo is Lotería Nacional. This is Spain’s national lottery organised by the Spanish government. As a result, the prizes are tax-free and 70 per cent of the money deposited can actually be paid out to the winners. The rest is donated to charities and part goes to the government itself. Per year, the government receives revenue of around 1 billion euros through the Christmas lottery.
History Nacional lottery Spain
El Gordo is special in many ways. It has a very long history to begin with. It was organized by the Spanish government for the first time in 1812. Interestingly enough orphans from Madrid had the task to sing and read the numbers during the draw. This tradition still exists today. Anno 2017 the orphans from the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Madrid are very proud to do the singing. It’s really special to see!