NewsIt's about billions: Spain's Christmas lottery

It's about billions: Spain's Christmas lottery

In the Spanish Christmas lottery, children sing the drawn ticket numbers. Millions of people watch TV in awe. But not because of the singing. It’s about billions.

Madrid – Two days before Christmas Eve, Spain is gripped by the lottery fever again. In the traditional Christmas lottery there are winnings totaling a good 2.4 billion euros on Wednesday.

The main prize, called “El Gordo” (the fat one), is four million euros for a whole ticket. It is paid out 172 times because every single one of the 100,000 ticket numbers has been sold just as often. All in all, lots were sold again for 3.4 billion euros. 30 percent, or a good billion euros, goes to the state.

Oldest and largest raffle in the world

Millions of Spaniards will be in front of the TV to watch the drawing live at the Teatro Real in Madrid. The lottery, which was launched more than 200 years ago, is considered the oldest and, because of the total amount played, also the largest tombola in the world. The drawing of the lucky numbers in the venerable Madrid Opera House is a very complicated matter.

There are two lottery drums. In the first, larger drum there are 100,000 wooden balls with the ticket numbers, in the second a good 1,800 wooden balls with the winnings. During the draw, two balls fall simultaneously from the two drums into a glass bowl. The numbers are sung by students from the San Ildefonso boarding school in Madrid, who are considered to be good luck charms. It will be a good three to four hours before all the prizes have been awarded. dpa

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