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Spain goes bullistic as big, fat lottery faces bald truth

Dec 20, 2006, 12:36 pm

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El GordoEl Gordo: Spain goes bullistic as big, fat lottery faces bald truth

The Bald One has left the Fat One. Now everyone's talking.

For the past eight years, Spaniards have been cajoled into buying lottery tickets in El Gordo (the Fat One) — the world's richest annual lottery draw — by advertisements featuring El Calvo (the Bald One), a silent, mysterious figure showering good fortune at random upon Spaniards as a symbol of the Fat One's beneficence.

But the Bald One, it seems, became too famous for his own good.

Despite being one of the best-known faces on Spanish television, and being credited with having increased lottery ticket sales by 11 per cent a year, El Calvo — who is played by British actor Clive Arrindell — has been dropped from this year's campaign.

"It's like saying Santa Claus won't be coming this year. El Gordo just won't be the same any more," Veronica, 32, said in Madrid.

Spain's lottery bosses have, however, been unmoved by the outcry surrounding the Bald One's removal.

"El Calvo had cannibalized the advertising campaigns, making people forget what they were about," explained a lottery spokesman.

It is difficult, however, to imagine any Spaniard forgetting El Gordo.

Every year, 80 per cent of Spaniards buy lottery tickets for the Fat One, which will be drawn tomorrow, spending the equivalent of €75 (US$100) a person. Then they wait for the elaborate, nationally televised three-hour draw, when children from a disadvantaged Madrid school announce the numbers in plainsong Gregorian chant.

Although the winning ticket earns the lucky owner just €200,000 (US$264,000), what gives El Gordo its fame is the fact that there are a guaranteed 1800 winning tickets and that most of these are sold from the same shop, in the process enriching an entire village or city barrio.

"What if everyone else in my building buys a ticket in the bar downstairs or in the shop down the road except me and they win? I won't be able to show my face in the street," Marisa, a 32-year-old Madrid engineer said.

The relatively high chance participants have of winning something in the Fat One — 13,344 out of the 85,000 tickets win at least €100 (US$132) — means that Spaniards don't say that they have won the lottery; they say it was their turn.

The Age

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3 comments. Last comment 15 years ago by Jazi76.
Page 1 of 1
Any town, USA
United States
Member #46728
September 25, 2006
112 Posts

El Gordo has great odds.  But $ 100 is quite expensive.

    United States
    Member #46823
    October 1, 2006
    270 Posts

    Does anyone know how this works?  The article says people spend the equivalent of $100 US, is that in a number of tickets or just one?  Also, how does one shop have most of the winners, is it just by luck of the draw or is it set uo that way?  As there are only 85,000 tickets sold, is this a raffle type drawing?  How much of the proceeds go to fund the winning tickets?

      Any town, USA
      United States
      Member #46728
      September 25, 2006
      112 Posts

      MADRID, Spain (December 22, 2003) -- The world's richest lottery, Spain's El Gordo or the Fat One, was drawn on Monday. The lottery started informally in 1812 and became institutionalized, with the title of "Christmas lottery," in 1892 and marks the official start of Spain's holiday season.
      Three-quarters of the country's 40 million people reportedly participate in El Gordo.
      ONLAE, the state lottery said tickets issued this year were worth $3.1 billion, and that 70%, or $2.2 billion, was destined for prize money. The remaining 30% would be distributed between administration, lottery retailers, and the state treasury.
      El Gordo uses a complex system of shared numbers that go from 00001 to 66,000. Each of the 66,000 numbers is repeated 1,900 times. People often form syndicates to buy tickets costing $25 each, so windfalls trickle through towns, offices, sports clubs and bars.
      Tens of thousands win something, from $125 to $250,000 on a single ticket.
      This year's first-prize number was 42473. The 1,900 tickets bearing that number were worth a total $470 million.
      Media reports said it was not immediately clear how many tickets in each of the five top winning series had been sold, and who was lucky enough to be holding those coveted numbers. However, the Associated Press reported six-hundred first-prize winners were sold in a village in Catalonia called Sort, which means "luck" in the northeast region's language.
      Spain holds another big lottery in early January to mark the Feast of the Epiphany. It is known as El Nino, or the child, referring to the baby Jesus. But it is nowhere near as popular as El Gordo, with winnings of less than half of Monday's many millions.
      SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from wire service reports.

      View: Organismo Nacional de Loterías
      y Apuestas del Estado (ONLAE) news articles