Dreaming of The Fat One – a Spanish Christmas tradition

There’s a Christmas tradition in Spain, that’s even more popular than Christmas: La Lotería de Navidad.
This national lottery is much more than just a draw of numbers – it is a whole day of festivities, drawing and singing – and it’s always on December 22nd. The climax of the lottery is the moment when El Gordo – the Fat One – is drawn. In 2016 it’s 660 Million Euros! On one single day, prizes of more than 2.3 billion Euros in total find some happy winners. Merry Christmas to them!

And the mathematics behind is pretty complicated: The lottery consists of only 99.999 ticket numbers or billetes, BUT in order to sell more tickets, the ticket number was turned into a ticket number series (aptly called serie), which means, that every 99.999 tickets are printed several times. For example, in 2015, there were 180 series of 100.000 tickets each, for a total of 18,000,000 tickets available at 200 Euros each.
BUT you don’t buy a 200 Euro ticket to participate in the lottery: You buy 1/10 of a 200 Euro ticket, a so-called décimos, that’s available for – yes, you probably guessed it – 20 Euros.

The good news is: They have the same amount of prizes for each series. No matter if there are 160 or 180 units of ticket number 43905: Everyone with a ticket no. 43905 will win a décimo – or one-tenth – of El Gordo, if that number is drawn as the winner.

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Enough statistics and mathematics. Back to the history. La Lotería de Navidad has been organised every year since 1812, which means, that it’s the second longest continuously running lottery in the world. The traditions are also the same: Pupils from San Ildefonso school draw the numbers and sing them out loud! Yes, you read me right! One child sings the winning number and another child sings the corresponding prize. This is repeated until all the prize-balls are connected to a number.

Due to the vast number of prizes, the drawing takes several hours. The pupils actually have to work in shifts to get the drawing job done. But for a cause: most winners donate a part of their prize to the school. The spectacle takes place in Teatro Real in Madrid and the public attending the event are usually dressed in lottery-related extravagant clothing and hats.

We have bought our 1/10 percent of El Gordo. It’s smiling at us from the door of our fridge.
You can buy too! Everyone can be Spanish at heart. But last chance is today, the 21st of December. So hurry!

Good luck and buena suerte!

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Buy your ticket for La Lotería de Navidad at Ventura24.es

If you do buy a ticket, you can check out here if you’ve got a winning number:

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