Includes video report
Just eight minutes after the draw began, the top prize was called for the number 26590
The winning number in this year's Christmas lottery — popularly known as El Gordo (The Fat One) — is 26590. The lucky five-digit figure corresponding to the top €4 million prize was sung out by two children from San Ildefonso school as per tradition at 9.19am — just eight minutes after the draw began.
The first prize-winning number in the hugely popular draw was sold at lottery offices in the municipality of Salou in Tarragona province, as well as Salamanca (Castile and León) and Alicante (Valencia). The number was also sold in Madrid's famous Doña Manolita lottery shop.
In Spain's Christmas lottery, every number is divided into 10 identical segments, or décimos, costing €20 each. Because numbers are also divided into series, there are in fact 1,600 tickets with the same number sold at lottery sales points across the country, making it impossible for one person to buy them all.
Many people buy even smaller stakes in several décimos to increase their chances of winning something. A €1 stake in the winning number is worth €20,000, while a €20 décimo pays out €400,000 before taxes.
But those who miss out on El Gordo can still win a prize. Second prize awards €125,000 to each winning décimo or €6,250 for every euro played. Third prize is €50,000 for a décimo or €2,500 for every euro. The Christmas lottery also includes 1,794 prizes of €1,000 for every décimo or €5 for every euro (the so-called Pedrea). Players also have the chance to win back the cost of a décimo (the Reintegro) if the last digit of their number matches the last digit in the six-digit sequence that wins first, second or third prize.
All prizes of over €2,500 are subject to a 20% tax which means holders of a décimo will take home €320,050 with the rest going to the tax office.
Spain's first national Christmas lottery took place on December 18, 1812. But historians say it was first conceived to buy bullets and make cannons to fight the French troops attacking the Andalusian city of Cádiz, which in 1812 was Spain's last line of defense against the Napoleonic invasion.
Although the lottery was created during the siege of Cádiz, by the time the lottery was celebrated the siege had already ended, having lasted from February 5, 1810 to August 25, 1812.
The war, however, was still raging, and the lottery spread from Andalusia to the rest of Spain as the Spanish troops defeated the French. In 1814, when the war was nearly over, the lottery headquarters moved from Cádiz to Madrid, and it has remained in the capital ever since.
VIDEO: Watch the highlights from this year's El Gordo drawing
(Click to display full-size in gallery)