El Gordo Navidad
El Gordo Navidad, also known as Sorteo de Navidad or Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad, is a massively popular Spanish lottery game. First held in 1812, this Christmas lottery has been held year for more than two centuries and has captured the hearts of millions of people across Spain and around the world.
In recent years, the draw has typically been held at 09.00 CET on 22nd December at the Teatro Real in Madrid on the Plaza de Isabel II. It is an extravagant ceremony, and even the day before the draw the El Gordo Navidad balls are publicly examined to ensure that they will be up to the task. School children from CEIP San Ildefonso sing the winning numbers and their related prizes as they are drawn simultaneously from two different machines.
The machines are called bombos. The one containing all the different prize values contains 1,807 balls, while the other contains 100,000 balls to represent all the different number combinations. Working in shifts, the children continue this process of drawing the balls and singing the results until the draw is finished a few hours later.
How to Play - and Win - El Gordo Navidad
Unlike most other lottery games from around the world, El Gordo Navidad works like a raffle. Players don’t choose their own numbers; they buy tickets with pre-printed numbers from 00000 to 99999. In recent years there have been 170 different series, each of which offers 100,000 tickets, and each series has had €14 million in prizes to distribute among winning tickets. While the total value of the tickets issued might rise above €3 billion, about 70 percent of this is dedicated to prizes - resulting in more than €2.3 billion being given away to lucky players!
A full ticket, known as a billete, costs €200, but most people buy a share of a ticket with their friends, family or co-workers. A decimo is a tenth of a ticket and costs €20, entitling its owner to a tenth of the advertised billete prize it wins. Entire towns and villages have been known to go in on full El Gordo Navidad tickets, netting their residents some amazing amounts of cash in the process. Due to the way tickets with the same number are distributed to local retailers, communities often enjoy success together. In 2016, for example, all the tickets for the first prize were sold in Madrid.
The nickname “El Gordo” comes from the name for the top prize - “the big one” or “the fat one”. In each series, the first prize is worth a massive €4 million. For example, if you were to buy a decimo that turned out to be part of the top winning ticket, you’d win €400,000. Visit the El Gordo Navidad Prizes page to learn more.
Visit the FAQs page to learn more about this great Christmas lottery.