Winners across Spain celebrate ‘El Gordo,’ world’s richest lottery for prize money

Shares of the top prize, 05490, were sold in 30 provinces across Spain. Holders of a €20 ticket will receive €400,000 before tax

‘El Gordo' lottery
People celebrating outside a lottery sales point in Madrid's Moncloa district.JUAN BARBOSA

The first prize in Spain’s famous Christmas lottery – popularly known as El Gordo (The Fat One) – is 05490.

Celebrations broke out across the country after the number was called out at 11.21am by children from Madrid’s San Ildefonso school in a nationally televised draw at the Teatro Real opera house in the capital, following a long-established tradition.

“This is incredible,” said José Vicente López, a lottery sales point manager in Jerez de la Frontera who added this is the third consecutive year his establishment has sold one of the winning tickets in El Gordo and its sister lottery, La Lotería del Niño. “We keep getting calls from the media, the place is packed with people and we haven’t been able to check anything.”

A child from the San Ildefonso school in Madrid with the top prize.
A child from the San Ildefonso school in Madrid with the top prize. Andrea Comas

Purchasing and sharing the €20 tickets in the run-up to Christmas is a major tradition among families, friends and co-workers. Other lotteries have bigger individual top prizes but Spain’s Christmas lottery, held each December 22, is ranked as the world’s richest for total prize money. The incredibly popular lottery will dish out a total of €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion), much of it in hundreds of smaller prizes.

The most sought-after prize shells out €400,000 ($425,000), or around €325,000 after tax, to winning holders of €20 tickets, which are known as décimos. The second prize went to the number 04074, which will distribute €125,000 to each décimo holder. “It was hard to sell it, because it is an ugly number,” said the head of a sales point in Bilbao that carried some of the winning tickets.

People who purchased shares of the third prize, 45250, will get €50,000 for every décimo they have. Many people buy even smaller stakes in several décimos to increase their chances of winning something. A €1 stake in the top prize is worth €20,000.

In Spain’s Christmas lottery, every number is divided into 10 identical segments, 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 sale points across the country, making it impossible for one person to buy them all.

As in 2020 and 2021, the winners who receive prizes of under €40,000 will not need to pay taxes on it.

Francisco Bartolome (senior and junior) sold tickets for the first prize at Kiosko Chalo in Granada.
Francisco Bartolome (senior and junior) sold tickets for the first prize at Kiosko Chalo in Granada. Fermin Rodriguez (Fermin Rodriguez)

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 defense of Cádiz, by the time it was held the siege, which lasted from February 5, 1810 to August 25, 1812. had already ended.

The war, however, was still raging, and the lottery spread from Andalusia to the rest of Spain as Spanish forces and their allies scored a series of victories over 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.

If you purchased a ticket, you can find out whether you won any prizes using the tool below.

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