Even in todays austere situation in Spain, there is one tradition that will never change. That is the world’s biggest lottery draw called El Gordo (The Big One). Practically every person in the country either has a ticket or a percentage of a ticket and it is normally drawn on the week into Christmas.

No matter where you are in Spain, you can feel the excitement in the air. There are long queues at every newsstand and people walk away clutching their tickets. The Spanish love their national lottery so much on a regular weekly basis that The Big One is particularly looked forward to every year. And no wonder, for the prizes are huge and can change many people’s lives in an instant. It was first launched in 1812 and therefore, is probably the longest running lottery as well.
Most Spanish people, even if they do not gamble during the rest of the year, enter El Gordo. Being Christmas time, they feel that perhaps this year will be their year.

Due to this enormous popularity, each ticket is printed in multiple sections that are each called a series. A unique five digit number is printed on each ticket and each is printed 180 times under different series numbers. Each ticket if purchased whole cost €200 therefore, as this is very expensive, the tickets are sold off in tenths which are called decimos. The price of one of these costs €20 and the payout is 10% of the published prize.

Many businesses by whole tickets and then divide them up and pass them on as participations to their employees or customers.
To give an idea of the value of the lottery this year, this is estimated to be in the region of €2.5 billion. You can understand now why it is called El Gordo, the fat one. In reality this titular applies to the top 180 winning tickets that win €4 million each. Apart from these, there are thousands of multiple chances to win on every single ticket and that’s what makes it so appealing to the majority of Spanish people. Even the second prize is worth €2.5 million and this gives an idea of just how far down the line prizes are distributed.

As the day of the draw comes near, it’s fair to say that the whole of the country is glued to the television. It is not unusual for pueblos to buy tickets in bulk and therefore the level of excitement in these locations is incredible. For it has been known in the past, that several pueblos have indeed won the jackpot.

If you are in Spain during this time then it is well worth while purchasing a ticket or two and join in the fun. No matter which city or pueblo you are in, the excitement of being involved with El Gordo is catching. Malaga and the Costa del Sol is no different and you will find tickets being issued not only in shops but practically on every street corner so do not waste time, have a go and good luck.


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