Spain Celebrates 'Fat One' Lottery Win

Dec 20

Spain just gave out a €2.38 billion prize pot in what was deemed the world’s richest lottery, and thousands of people celebrated, after winning a share in the pot.

Thousands of people queued outside the Royal Theatre of Madrid throughout the night to await the draw of the El Gordo lottery, which translates into ‘the fat one’. A total of 170 sets of tickets were sold for the lottery, with each full ticket costing €200. Each player holding a ticket was entered into a draw for a €4 million top prize.

The most common ticket cost €20 each, and it gave buyers a chance to win 10% of the top prize, amounting to €400,000 before tax. Thousands of smaller prizes were also given out. This year’s top prize was won by the person holding ticket number 26590.

The El Gordo lottery had a very complex set of rules, and a person is allowed to buy several tickets with the same number, which makes it practically impossible to say how many people actually won a share in the pot prize. Nevertheless, the world witnessed winners and vendors celebrate victories by popping bottles of cava. The lottery’s complicated jackpot structure was designed specifically to allow as many people as possible to win even a small prize, or to at least break even by getting back the amount they paid for their ticket.

And because the same number can be purchased multiple times, the winning ticket--26590--was therefore sold in various cities, including Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. Dona Manolita was among the vendors that sold the winning ticket. This is a stall in the center of Madrid that has been selling lottery tickets for over a hundred years, and is counted as one of the country’s luckiest vendors.

Staff at Dona Manolita were among those who popped bottles of cava with a crowd gathered around the stall to celebrate the draw. One employee expressed happiness over the annual celebration, saying: “I’m very happy. We’ve worked all year to achieve this. This is our reward, to sell ‘El Gordo’.

The structure also allows a single ticket to be split 10 ways. Because of this, millions of people in Spain band together with family and friends each year to get a chance at winning a share of the prize. Even those whose tickets won only the small prizes joined in the celebrations, and many of those who joined the crowd outside Madrid’s Royal Theatre were dressed in eccentric costumes to add to the fun atmosphere of the event.

When the time for the draw finally came, the lucky number were pulled out of huge golden spheres. To add to the uniqueness of the draw, the winning numbers were not read out. Rather, they were sung out by schoolchildren in a live televised event. This Christmas lottery tradition has been going on in Spain for over 200 years. It was first televised in 1957, just a year after the country officially got television. It has become a major part of the country’s festive calendar and has given birth to an array of traditions over the years.