Sunday 1/16/22
EL GORDO DE NAVIDAD

Spaniards wait with bated breath as Christmas lottery draw begins

The lottery, which was launched more than 200 years ago, is considered the oldest in the world and also the largest due to the total amount involved

10 December 2021, Spain, Sevilla: A person rubs a Christmas Lottery ticket by the tile of the Lottery Administration El Gato Negro in Seville, a day before Spain's extraordinary Christmas lottery draw. Photo: Joaquin Corchero/EUROPA PRESS/dpa.
A person rubs a Christmas Lottery ticket by the tile of the Lottery Administration 'El Gato Negro' in Seville before the draw. Photo: Joaquin Corchero/dpa.

The drawing of the lucky numbers for the Spanish Christmas lottery began early Wednesday in the Teatro Real opera house in Madrid.

A total of 2.4 billion euros (2.7 billion dollars) awaits the lucky winners.

The ceremony lasts three to four hours, as many smaller prizes are also drawn.

The main prize, called 'El Gordo de Navidad,' or the Fat One, is 4 million euros for a whole ticket. It is paid out 172 times, as each of the 100,000 ticket numbers is sold that many times. Tickets are also sold in fractions.

The lottery, which was launched more than 200 years ago, is considered the oldest in the world and also the largest due to the total amount involved.

In Spain, it is a huge event, with almost everyone buying at least one so-called "decimo," a tenth of one ticket, which costs 20 euros.

Masks in the theatre

An audience of millions follows the draw live on television.

The numbers are recited in song by pupils from the Madrid boarding school San Ildefonso - again this year with social-distancing and masks, which they were only allowed to remove for the performance.

There are two raffle drums. In the first, larger drum are 100,000 wooden balls with the ticket numbers, in the second some 1,800 wooden balls with the winning amounts.

During the draw, two balls from both drums fall into a glass bowl at the same time.

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