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Spain's Christmas lottery is still "El Gordo"

El GordoEl Gordo: Spain's Christmas lottery is still "El Gordo"
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In tough times, Spaniards trim trees, not their lottery ticket purchases

MADRID, Spain — On the morning of Dec. 22, Spain will be glued to radios and TV sets. A monotonous chant of children's voices will float through the air of homes, cafeterias and offices for hours.

It is the lyrical event of the season, a kickoff to Christmas celebrations. Children dressed up in navy blue and gray uniforms sing, not Christmas carols, but the winning numbers and prizes for the Loteria de Navidad, Spain's state Christmas lottery.

At one point, the intoning of this mantra will break slightly with emotion, Spaniards will hold their breath and hearts will skip a beat in expectation as the little ball bearing "El Gordo" (the fat one) is drawn. The grand prize amounts to 3 million euros, or almost $4.5 million.

A decimo, a tenth of a ticket, is the smallest unit officially sold. It costs 20 euros. The Christmas Lottery is the state lottery distributing the largest number of prizes: more than 26 million totaling 2.3 billion euros. The winning ratio for El Gordo is 15,000 euros to a purchased euro. Family members, friends and colleagues share participaciones — they buy decimos together and make photocopies so everybody knows the group's number.

Folks who shun any form of wagering the rest of the year give in at Christmas when lottery tickets read like holiday season liturgy. Coworkers buy into a number together; gym partners purchase another; then there is the number displayed on a large sign next to the alcohol beverages that can be bought at the corner bar; the number available for purchase at the drycleaners ... There is a sense of community in sharing the same number amongst one's nearest and dearest.

Economic crisis and job loss do little to deflate the spirit. Christmas lottery sales suffered only a 3-percent drop last year.

Lottery decimos and participaciones are also gifts, particularly among family members. Brides and grooms give their wedding guests the present of a decimo, the number coinciding with their wedding date, as a memento, explained Concha Corona, manager of Dona Manolita, a lottery administration founded in 1931.

Lottery numbers hold a magic power in Spaniards' imagination, and so does the place to purchase a ticket. By the end of October, Spaniards are already lining up all day long to buy at the classic downtown establishment of Dona Manolita.

"People come from all over the country to buy here," Corona explained with pride. "And beyond. Germans and British ask family members living in Spain to buy them tickets." The late Dona Manolita, founder of the administration, used to travel with suitcases full of tickets to sell them in La Toja, a spa town in the northern coast of Galicia where she vacationed, according to Corona. Tickets can now be bought through the store's website and shipped — but only within Spain. They are divisas — i.e. Spanish currency — that, in theory, cannot be taken out of the country.

Natural disasters are a draw for lottery shoppers. Floods in Sueca, Valencia, in September 2008, delivered a watershed of lottery ticket sales in that town come December, according to Las Provincias, a local media. Superstition fuels a belief that providence will compensate catastrophes with good luck in the Christmas lottery.

Madrid will not host the Olympic Games in 2016, but that, and the expectation that the capital city will bid for 2020, make those numbers this year's favorites. Another standout is Michael Jackson's death date: 25609. And a number that's already sold out, according to Corona, is 1918. What happened in 1918? The Spanish flu pandemic killed millions of people in the world.

There are Spaniards who stay faithful to the same number all their lives. Others resort to death for fortune: a female client of Dona Manolita's bought a decimo whose figures coincided with the day and the hospital bed number in which her mother-in-law had passed away. Clients generally prefer numbers ending in 5, 7 and 9; 13 is also a popular pick.

Spain's first state lottery was created by King Charles III in 1763. The singing kids, known as the "ninos de San Ildefonso," have been drawing and intoning the winning numbers since 1771. They are students of San Ildefonso, an orphans' school founded in Madrid in 1543.

Primetime news on Dec. 22 will dedicate a good part of their airtime to show images of winners jumping and crying in happiness, showering themselves with cava, Spanish sparkling wine. Next morning, the El Gordo number and the photo of the pair of San Ildefonso kids who sang it will be the headlines in the media. For most Spaniards at home, in cafeterias and the office, it will be "health day" — "We didn't win the lottery, but good health is what matters."

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14 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by rdgrnr.
Page 1 of 1
Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
Chief Bottle Washer
New Jersey
United States
Member #1
May 31, 2000
23260 Posts
Online
Posted: December 18, 2009, 8:20 am - IP Logged

Hopefully all the lottery execs watch the YouTube video (above) of the drawing.  Notice the lack of computers.  There isn't a hint of deception or rigging.  Notice the excitement of a traditional event in front of a live audience.  You can actually feel the excitement when the "Fat One" number is drawn by the kids.

The raffles are a good start, but the conspicuous absence of raffles in many states this year is a shame.

Perhaps this is the opportunity for a national game -- not another Super Powerball, or whatever you'll call it.  Do a national raffle-style game with the flair and tradition of Spain's El Gordo.  Make an event of it.

And get rid of the frigging computers.  Do real drawings for crying out loud.

 

Check the State Lottery Report Card
What grade did your lottery earn?

 

Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
Help eliminate computerized drawings!

    jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
    Harbinger
    D.C./MD.
    United States
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    July 30, 2006
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    Posted: December 18, 2009, 2:13 pm - IP Logged

    Totally agree! Thanks for that video.

      Nino224's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg
      Miami
      United States
      Member #62793
      July 9, 2008
      673 Posts
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      Posted: December 18, 2009, 2:41 pm - IP Logged

      Hopefully all the lottery execs watch the YouTube video (above) of the drawing.  Notice the lack of computers.  There isn't a hint of deception or rigging.  Notice the excitement of a traditional event in front of a live audience.  You can actually feel the excitement when the "Fat One" number is drawn by the kids.

      The raffles are a good start, but the conspicuous absence of raffles in many states this year is a shame.

      Perhaps this is the opportunity for a national game -- not another Super Powerball, or whatever you'll call it.  Do a national raffle-style game with the flair and tradition of Spain's El Gordo.  Make an event of it.

      And get rid of the frigging computers.  Do real drawings for crying out loud.

      Todd, which states have computerized drawings?

      "...a chance to push everything aside, the circumstances that've controlled our lives, and do it our way now. Good, bad or otherwise. You'll maybe get lost in it, tied up in it a little bit, but if you work your way through that the real you shows up, I think. Maybe what's at your core deep down, maybe that comes out. Maybe that's what it's about." Mike Pace 

        Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
        Chief Bottle Washer
        New Jersey
        United States
        Member #1
        May 31, 2000
        23260 Posts
        Online
        Posted: December 18, 2009, 3:58 pm - IP Logged

        Todd, which states have computerized drawings?

        Click State Lottery Report Card in the Results menu.  After you're done there, click here.

         

        Check the State Lottery Report Card
        What grade did your lottery earn?

         

        Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
        Help eliminate computerized drawings!

          savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
          adelaide sa
          Australia
          Member #37136
          April 11, 2006
          3300 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: December 18, 2009, 4:41 pm - IP Logged

          2.2 bill euros in prizes is no shabby lotto. well lottery. Yeah i agree the tradition and the fact people buy into multiple ticketys all year round for the big even. family tickets offfice tickets, people down the pub.

           

          all up its a year long event,  buying and then hopefully winning.  I wish i could get into that sort of excitemnt. especally the winning part lol

          2014 = -1016; 2015= -1409; 2016 JAN = -106; FEB= -81; MAR= -131; APR= - 87: MAY= -91; JUN= -39; JUL=-134; AUG= -124; SEP = -123; OCT= -84  NOV=- 73 TOT= -3498

          keno historic = -2291 ; 2015= -603; 2016= JAN=-32, FEB= +12 , MAR= -86, APR = -77. MAY= -48, JUN= -29, JUL=-71; AUG = -52; SEPT= -43; OCT = +56 NOV = -33 TOT= -3297

            lottocalgal's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
            CA
            United States
            Member #57222
            December 23, 2007
            587 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: December 19, 2009, 9:20 am - IP Logged

            Hopefully all the lottery execs watch the YouTube video (above) of the drawing.  Notice the lack of computers.  There isn't a hint of deception or rigging.  Notice the excitement of a traditional event in front of a live audience.  You can actually feel the excitement when the "Fat One" number is drawn by the kids.

            The raffles are a good start, but the conspicuous absence of raffles in many states this year is a shame.

            Perhaps this is the opportunity for a national game -- not another Super Powerball, or whatever you'll call it.  Do a national raffle-style game with the flair and tradition of Spain's El Gordo.  Make an event of it.

            And get rid of the frigging computers.  Do real drawings for crying out loud.

            Hey Todd ( or maybe someone else)

            Could you explain that lottery to me?  I watched the video and didn't get.  The kids seemed like they were doing alot of singing or calling out ball numbers but then in the end they pulled out only two balls?  But after that I saw alot of people jumping around and hugging and such.  Two balls? but its supposed to be this gigantic lottery?   Everyone please forgive my ignorance but any explanation would be appreciated.    Of course i won't be playing it,  but i just want to understand that video.

            Thanks all.

              Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
              Chief Bottle Washer
              New Jersey
              United States
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              Online
              Posted: December 19, 2009, 10:46 am - IP Logged

              Hey Todd ( or maybe someone else)

              Could you explain that lottery to me?  I watched the video and didn't get.  The kids seemed like they were doing alot of singing or calling out ball numbers but then in the end they pulled out only two balls?  But after that I saw alot of people jumping around and hugging and such.  Two balls? but its supposed to be this gigantic lottery?   Everyone please forgive my ignorance but any explanation would be appreciated.    Of course i won't be playing it,  but i just want to understand that video.

              Thanks all.

              The girl on the right is picking out ticket numbers.  As you can see, each game number has one wooden ball with the number stamped on it.  No computers needed!

              The boy on the left is picking out prize descriptions.  You can see when he picks out the "fat one" prize he stops the girl from racking her number, and that number she's holding is the big winner.

              If you look at the spindles where they are racking the numbers, it is a box with lots of spindles that already have wooden balls racked, so you can see the drawing had been going on for some time.

              All of the lower-tier prizes are determined based on the "fat one" number drawn.  The lowest prize is any ticket that has a fifth number that matches the fifth number on the fat one number.  There are lots of other prizes.  I think second and third prizes are something like one greater than the fat one and one less than the fat one (if memory serves).

               

              Check the State Lottery Report Card
              What grade did your lottery earn?

               

              Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
              Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                time*treat's avatar - radar

                United States
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                Posted: December 19, 2009, 3:51 pm - IP Logged

                "A decimo, a tenth of a ticket, is the smallest unit officially sold. It costs 20 euros."

                That makes a full ticket cost 200 euros. I'm not keen to see that aspect adopted in the US.

                In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
                Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

                  lottocalgal's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                  CA
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                  December 23, 2007
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                  Posted: December 19, 2009, 4:43 pm - IP Logged

                  The girl on the right is picking out ticket numbers.  As you can see, each game number has one wooden ball with the number stamped on it.  No computers needed!

                  The boy on the left is picking out prize descriptions.  You can see when he picks out the "fat one" prize he stops the girl from racking her number, and that number she's holding is the big winner.

                  If you look at the spindles where they are racking the numbers, it is a box with lots of spindles that already have wooden balls racked, so you can see the drawing had been going on for some time.

                  All of the lower-tier prizes are determined based on the "fat one" number drawn.  The lowest prize is any ticket that has a fifth number that matches the fifth number on the fat one number.  There are lots of other prizes.  I think second and third prizes are something like one greater than the fat one and one less than the fat one (if memory serves).

                  Got it.  Thanks for the explanation.

                    Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                    Chief Bottle Washer
                    New Jersey
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                    Posted: December 19, 2009, 5:02 pm - IP Logged

                    "A decimo, a tenth of a ticket, is the smallest unit officially sold. It costs 20 euros."

                    That makes a full ticket cost 200 euros. I'm not keen to see that aspect adopted in the US.

                    Well, you have to understand that the Fat One lottery is only once per year, and you also have to understand how tickets are traditionally purchased in Spain.  By only comparing El Gordo to USA lotteries, you are missing the point. 

                    Someone buying tickets for themselves may pick up a few decimas.  But often families buy whole tickets, and share in the winnings.  Sometimes entire villages buy ranges of tickets.  It is a cultural thing, and one of the longest-running lotteries worldwide.  Certainly the biggest.

                    IMHO, the best thing to do is to learn more about something that is obviously successful, understanding the advantages of its differences, rather than only comparing it to what is familiar to yourself, and judging it on that basis.

                     

                    Check the State Lottery Report Card
                    What grade did your lottery earn?

                     

                    Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                    Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                      time*treat's avatar - radar

                      United States
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                      Posted: December 19, 2009, 5:59 pm - IP Logged

                      From the first comment, the point seemed to be that there were no computers involved. Was there another?

                      I didn't "judge" the game, nor say it was unsuccessful. That case would be kind of hard to make about a game that's been around a couple hundred years.

                      I made a comment about the specific aspect of the ticket cost. How that was extrapolated into some kind of slam against their culture is just ... unfortunate.

                      With as many stories that show up here about families, co-worker groups & friends that win and then wind up fighting about money, I wouldn't be buying with the village.

                      In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
                      Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

                        jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
                        Harbinger
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                        Posted: December 19, 2009, 8:00 pm - IP Logged

                        Not all cultures are like this American culture,  a lot of those "villages"  have been there for literally hundreds of years and the familys that live there go back generations in many cases.

                          Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                          Chief Bottle Washer
                          New Jersey
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                          Posted: December 19, 2009, 10:56 pm - IP Logged

                          From the first comment, the point seemed to be that there were no computers involved. Was there another?

                          I didn't "judge" the game, nor say it was unsuccessful. That case would be kind of hard to make about a game that's been around a couple hundred years.

                          I made a comment about the specific aspect of the ticket cost. How that was extrapolated into some kind of slam against their culture is just ... unfortunate.

                          With as many stories that show up here about families, co-worker groups & friends that win and then wind up fighting about money, I wouldn't be buying with the village.

                          Oy.  Maybe you should re-read my post then.  I don't want to bore everyone by saying everything again.

                           

                          Check the State Lottery Report Card
                          What grade did your lottery earn?

                           

                          Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                          Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                            rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                            Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
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                            Posted: December 22, 2009, 6:28 am - IP Logged

                            Two hundred Euros broken down over a year doesn't sound too bad to me. I'd probably buy a whole ticket, given the opportunity.

                            It's funny how coincidences arise. As I read this article I remembered that I had a mother in law at one time that had the same name as the Spanish Lottery - El Gordo. Well, it wasn't actually her given name, it was more like a nickname that I gave her. I thought it was quaint and fitting; my wife at the time took offense. That woman had absolutely no sense of humor. There ain't a man in the world that coulda got along with that woman.


                                                                         
                                                 
                                                                     

                             

                             

                             

                             

                                                                                                                               

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