The Biggest Lottery in the World, Spain’s El Gordo Lottery (or “Christmas Lottery”) Puts More than $3.5 Billion Up For Grabs on Dec. 22

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A hand is scratching a lottery ticket

Although this posting normally comments on American lotteries, I have to spend some time today on the BIGGEST lottery in the world: El Gordo, the Spanish Lottery, which is only a few days away. Dec. 22.

This is, indeed, the fat one. Or, as Spaniards call it, the Christmas Lottery.

Almost unbelievably, there have been lotteries in Spain since the first was established by King Carlos III as far back as 1763. Indeed, the first “Christmas edition’ of the lottery was in 1812. The actual title, Sorteo de Navidad, was initially used in 1892.

The Spanish as a nation are lottery crazy; many kiosks can be seen selling various forms of lottery ticket and you will often be approached in the streets or bars by people selling tickets. But it’s at Christmas they their enthusiasm really does go overboard!

It was estimated last year that 98 percent (!!!!) of all Spanish adults participated in El Gordo, which meant that the total amount of the prize pool was an incredible 2.25 billion euros ($3.6 billion in USD), which equates to 70 percent of the sales of tickets. The probability of picking up some sort of prize is about 15 percent, which makes it quite a worthwhile gamble, in the scheme of things.

Well, firstly, the tickets go on the sale any time from July or August onwards so it’s not necessary to make sure you’re in Spain for Christmas to be able to participate. The organizers clicked on to the idea that people on their holidays might have a bit of spare money or think that they were “feeling lucky’ because they were so relaxed, and decided to exploit it.

Secondly, the tickets themselves are expensive – 200 euros each.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a complete ticket. Most tickets are usually sold in decimos, or tenths and often people club together to buy one of those. It is very common for organizations and sports clubs to raise funds for themselves by arranging their own competitions to be part of the lottery ticket consortium. It can become very complicated! Some families, though, have been playing the same numbers for decades, passing them down through the generations.

Because of the phenomenal number of tickets sold, and because the tickets only have 5 digit numbers, there are quite a few winning tickets. In 2006, for example, there were 180 first prize winners “ each one taking 3 million euros. So, even if you had a decimo of a winner, it would still be worth 300,000 euros.

Obviously, it’s quite common for families or work colleagues to club together to buy a ticket “ or even regulars at a local bar. You’ll frequently see signs proclaiming ‘Jugamos con el numero’ and inviting you to participate with them. This type of communal gambling can mean that whole villages or groups of workers can suddenly become wealthy. In 2005, the town of Vic, north of Barcelona, shared 500 million euros amongst its inhabitants. Imagine how those people felt who decided there was no point in buying into the tickets!

We’ll let you know what happens. But I think this is one of the coolest lotteries on earth.

GAMES WE PLAY in the USA:

The Dec. 19 Powerball jackpot is $92 million.

The Dec. 22 Mega Millions game jackpot is huge, at $162 million. There were no jackpot winners on Dec. 18.

There was ONE winning jackpot winner in the Dec. 18 Euro Millions game and that ticket was bought in France. The winning numbers are 14,30,32,35,49 and the lucky stars are 3,8. The next jackpot is15 million euros, or about $22 million, USD.

STOCKING STUFFER:

If you like cool stories and weird facts about lotteries, check out the book to your right. I’m shamelessly promoting it. OK, right. I’m a creep. But I love lotteries and this is not a scam book, but entertainment. I hope.

It’s available by clicking on the cover, or by going to amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

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Married to a beautiful (and extremely intelligent--- smarter than I am) South African woman. One child (brilliant). I've written three books, only one now available. Editor in chief of magazines...former managing editor .... news reporter, magazine writer, joker, sometimes a fool, lottery expert, lover of old, classic movies, music fanatic, Science Fiction fan (Warhammer 40,000, Game of Thrones). Goal for next year: Walk the Camino de Santiago. Into metaphysics, Esther Hicks (Abraham), Louise Hay

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