The Spanish Christmas Lottery, the ‘El Gordo’ or ‘The Fat One’ is the biggest lottery in the world. It started in 1812 during the reign of Carlos V and has become a huge event. It is actually so popular that they start to sell the tickets in August. The winning prize is ridiculously big, the total prize pool is 2 520 000 000 Euros (more than 2.5 billion Euros!).
This Lottery is always played on the 22nd of December. In the last days leading up to the deadline you can see people queuing in front of the lottery selling places as even those who don’t like gambling will participate in this one.
This is not your average kind of lottery as it has its own rules. You can buy a whole ticket or you can buy part of a ticket, too, but this means that the prize will be divided as well. There aren’t only first, second and third prizes but also thousands of smaller ones. Due to this the draw takes hours and some people will stay glued to their telly to watch the whole show, clutching their ticket in their hands.
The draw is conducted by two children, a boy and a girl form the San Idelfonso School in Madrid. It is quite peculiar as the children are singing while drawing the numbers. Here’s a short youtube video to demonstrate.
You don’t have to be Spanish to play the El Gordo. Have a look at the website thefatone.com, it explains everything in English.