El Gordo prize pool reaches a new high, now worth €2.5 billion
By Todd Northrop
Any economic hardships that may exist in Spain are not dampening the desire to win big, as people line up outside Lottery outlets, particularly in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona, to purchase tickets for this year's El Gordo drawing.
As the drawing date of El Gordo (literally translated as "The Fat One") nears, lottery players are lining up for their chance to win a slice of an unbelievably huge pot of money. El Gordo is know around the world for its annual Christmastime lottery drawing.
This year the El Gordo draw will pay out €2.5 billion (US$3.25 billion) to over 1,202,490 cash prize winners. Unlike traditional big-jackpot games, El Gordo is specifically designed to pay out relatively smaller prize amounts to a greater number of people. Almost everyone in the country plays, and the nation comes to a standstill while the lengthy drawing procedure takes place.
This year the drawing takes place on Thurs., Dec. 22.
First prize is worth €4 million (US$5.2 million), the highest amount ever, and up 33 percent from a year ago. Sales are expected to match last year's despite the economic crisis, said lottery operator Loterias y Apuestas del Estado (LAE).
The tickets are sold in 4,100 official kiosks throughout the country but can also be bought in a further 6,400 outlets such as newspaper kiosks.
The tickets are each divided into 10 parts, with each part known as a decima. A decima costs €20 (US$26), making the purchase of an entire ticket an expensive affair, at €200 (US$260). If a particular ticket wins a prize, then each decima is worth one-tenth of that prize, since there are ten decimas per ticket.
Some people like to play an entire ticket, while other like to play decimas from several tickets.
"I know we have economic problems and we might suffer even more in the new year," one unemployed purchaser said as he lined up in the cold, "but we all dream that we will be the one and that we will get lucky."
Many people have been saving up for the lottery all year and will spend even more than is usual. According to a survey by consultancy Deloitte, four out of every five Spaniards will take part in El Gordo this year, and will spend an average of €60 (US$78) buying tickets for the drawing.
"If I can win a bit of extra cash, we'll manage better," said 66 year old Ivan Lopez, who was in a line outside a lottery outlet in Playa Flamenca, planning to spend €120 on various tickets for his children to share.
Ticket sales in last year's Christmas draw totalled €2.7 billion (US$3.5 billion). This year, the total ticket sales are forecast to reach €3.6 billion (US$4.7 billion), of which €2.5 billion (US$3.25 billion) will be paid out in prize money, including several individual jackpots.
This year the prize list will include:
- 180 jackpots of €4 million (US$5.2 million)
- 180 second prizes of €1.25 million (US$1.6 million)
- Almost 350,000 prizes of €1000 (US$1,300)