Have you ever heard of El Gordo? If not, when you’re at the right place, as in this article, you’re going to find out about the world’s biggest and oldest lottery ever.


What is El Gordo?

As “El Gordo” is called Spain’s Christmas Lottery (Loteria de Navidad), and it’s more than 200 years old. The history goes back to 1812, and it has been organized in Spain every year since then. It can also be characterized as Spain’s national lottery due to its appeal to the residence of the country.

How does the lottery work?

The El Gordo is different from the most lotteries played worldwide. Each lottery ticket, the so-called “billete,” contains 5-digit numbers, which vary from 00.000 to 99.999. Unlike other lotteries, the Spanish system provides only 100.000 individual tickets. Subsequently, each ticket number is printed in the so-called series, which, in turn, is numbered, starting from “Series 001, Ticket 000000,” and it goes on. For instance, in 2019, there are available 17.000.000 tickets, which consist of 170 series of 100.000 tickets each.

The price of the lottery tickets is high, as it reaches 200 euros each. Since this price is not feasible for most of the residents of Spain, every ticket is divided into ten sub-tickets (décimo). In this case, the cost decreases to 20 euros each. As a result, one ticket can be shared by the members of a family, friends, and even by work colleagues. This fact renders the Christmas Lottery as a huge social event. Yet, the amount of money that can be won of a sub-ticket corresponds to one-tenth of the prize of the whole ticket. 

What is the prize?

Regarding the winning prize, for 2019, the total amount of money distributed around the country by the lottery levels up to 2.38 billion euros. The first prize (the El Gordo) is awarded to the holder of the winning ticket, and it amounts to 4.000.000 euros, the second prize is 1.250.000 euros, the third prize is 500.000, etc. 

The El Gordo event

The event of Spain’s Christmas Lottery takes place on 22 of December, every year, and it lasts for three hours, approximately. For the process of drawing, are used two large spherical cages. The biggest one contains 100.000 small wooden balls, and each of them is assigned with a 5-digit number, from 000.000 to 999.999. In the small cage, there are 1.807 wooden balls, and each of them represents an available prize. The numbers are printed with a special laser instead of color to prevent any potential contradictions regarding the balls. 

The drawing is carried out by two children standing next to the wooden spheres. Both extract one ball of each sphere simultaneously. The first ball indicated the number of the ticket that wins and the second one the winner prize. Afterward, they locate the balls on a unique base on the table in front of the lottery committee. This process is repeated until the cage with the prize-balls is empty.  

The Spanish Christmas Lottery as the best chances of winning

Because of the huge variety of prizes, the Spanish Christmas Lottery has the strongest possibility of winning either the first price (El Gordo de Navidad), with a proportion of 1:100.000, or the smaller prizes with a proportion of 1:7.

Therefore, the percentage of participation is huge. It is estimated that 75 percent of the adults play every year the Christmas Lottery, including the ones who don’t engage with any other lottery games.

Because, who wants to be left out, when the Spanish Christmas Lottery gives you the best chances to win?