Sunday 1/16/22

Spanish Christmas Lottery: the most often winning numbers and cities

Is it possible that there numbers more likely to become winning numbers?
A moment of the 2020 Christmas Lottery draw. Image: Youtube screenshot.
A moment of the 2020 Christmas Lottery draw. Image: Youtube screenshot.

It doesn't matter what tradition or superstition says: in the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw (El Gordo de Navidad), all numbers have the same probability of becoming prize-winning numbers. But one thing is the laws of probability, and quite another what actually happens.

Despite mathematical evidence, Spaniards throughout the years have labeled some numbers as 'ugly' and others as 'pretty', because the latter have been winning numbers more often, and are therefore more sought by lottery players before the draw.

In fact, number 5 is the most repeated first-prize ending throughout the history of the draw. It has been awarded 32 times. Many people also consider "lucky numbers" 4 and 6, which have been the completion of the first prize 27 times each. Meanwhile, numbers finished in 1 have only been awarded eight times.

What is the cause of that? Is it possible that there numbers more likely to become winning numbers?

The answer is no, although the statistics for the moment say yes. In fact, it is the statistical laws themselves that would explain why some numbers repeat themselves (for now) more than others. The reason is that the number of times that the draw has been held is 'finite', that is, the draw has been held very few times and that is why it seems that some numbers win more often than others. Therefore, as the Christmas draw is repeated many more times, the number of times that one or another number becomes winner should progressively equalize.

That is what mathematicians say, although many other people would say that in matters in which the lucky elves intervene, you never know.

The luckiest cities

As for the luckiest places, there are also cities and even neighborhoods that have won El Gordo de Navidad more often than others.

In this case, the reason must be found in the number of lottery tickets sold in each place. Therefore, the amount of population plays an important role, but it is not the deciding factor. What matters is how much lottery people purchase.

A number sold in Madrid has the same probability of being awarded as another bought in any small town in Spain, but the city of Madrid or any lottery store in Madrid that sells a lot has a greater probability of being touched by luck in every draw.

According to data from the Spanish lottery operator (Loterías y Apuestas del Estado), Madrid has historically been the city with the most El Gordo prizes, 81 times, the last in 2020.

Barcelona is the second luckiest city (42 times first-prize winner), followed by Seville (17), Bilbao (14), Valencia (13), Zaragoza (13), Cádiz (12), Malaga (10), Alicante and Granada (9). 

Until 2020, all the Spanish provinces have been awarded at least once with El Gordo de Navidad except Ávila, Girona, Jaén, Tarragona and Toledo.