(Navidad) (El Gordo) (The Fat One)
Spain's largest lottery organisation Loterías y
Apuestas del Estado SELAE offers 'Navidad'
(El Gordo, the fat one) the only single lottery draw in the world to award more
than $1 billion in prizes.
Navid captivates the entire nation. This can be
seen not only in the popular hobby of collecting old lottery tickets, tickets
from the first draw have been known to bring in excess of US$10,000, but also
in ticket numbers that are held, indeed cherished, by families. Some families
have reserved the same number for 50 years, passing it from generation to
Sales during December for the annual Christmas draw of Navidad
account for approximately 23% of total sales for ONLAE
El Gordo, the Spanish
Christmas Lottery has taken place every year since 1812 and is routinely worth
In 2012, for example, El Gordos prize pool was a gigantic
While that giant prize pool may get split among thousands of
winners in other words, there is no one mega-jackpot the
drawings three-hour ceremony, held strictly at 9:00am and followed by
torrents of wine, is a sacred part of Spanish culture.
very first El Gordo ceremony was held five days before Spain ratified its
Constitution in 1812. It has continued every year since then, even through the
countrys civil war in the early 20th century.
The ceremony proceeds
largely the same way, with two children pulling balls from two giant hoppers.
One hopper has the winning numbers; the other has the dollar amount.
the three-hour ceremony, the entire country is hoping their five-digit ticket
will match with the top prize: the El Gordo ball. In 2015, that ball alone was
worth $700 million, which was split between roughly 1,600 people in the the
southern coastal town of Roquetas de Mar.
There are hundreds of other
winning numbers, and Spaniards will go to any lengths to muster up some good
fortune. In other words: costumes.
Unlike Americas Powerball or Mega
Millions jackpot, El Gordo doles out smaller, six-figure prizes to thousands
sometimes entire towns. These increased odds are what lead people to
spend more on tickets, which causes the pot to swell.
Victory over the
probability gods is a family affair.
Which means there is no shortage of
wine-filled celebrations. Spaniards prefer to use cava, a sparkling white
Even for people like this couple who won a lesser prize, a winning
ticket equates to thousands of dollars.