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Spanish lottery pays out €2.4 billion

December 23, 2017

Employees of a retirement home in a struggling Spanish town were big winners in the world's biggest lottery. The lottery is a Christmas tradition that has gone on for more than 200 years.

Spanien - Lotterie El Gordo
Image: Reuters/S. M. Vidal

Spaniards watched with bated breath on Friday evening as the winning numbers were drawn in a €€2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) lottery.

The annual lottery, known as El Gordo or The Fat One, is the world's largest lottery jackpot and is a Christmas tradition dating back to 1812.

Employees of a retirement home in the struggling town of Campo de Criptana were among the biggest winners on Friday, winning more than €€10 million between them. 

Read more: The residents of Sodeto - five years after hitting the jackpot

A truck driver who volunteers at the home purchased 30 winning tickets, kept two for himself, gave one to his brother and re-sold the rest to retirement home employees.

"I am thrilled that I brought so much luck and money to my hometown," Jesus Martinez, 54, told online newspaper El Espanol. One in five residents of his town is unemployed.

Campo de Criptana Mayor Antonio Lucas-Torres said he was "very happy, because anything that rains money on Criptana is good because it has repercussions on the economy of the town."

Read more: Multiple winners in biggest Powerball USA lottery jackpot of all time

Schoolchildren call out a winning number of the biggest prize of Spain's Christmas Lottery "El Gordo"
The winning numbers are sung out by schoolchildren on televisionImage: Reuters/S. Vera

Many winners

The prize pool is distributed widely with the largest individual pot coming to €4 million. The actual "Fat One," the final winning number, was worth €680 million but was spread across 1,600 tickets.

People buy tickets through official kiosks or through local bars and shops, which often sell €20 "decimos" that give buyers a fraction of the prize.

Many ticket-buyers group together with companies, local bars or associations offering tickets to staff and customers.

The numbers are drawn on live television and sung out by schoolchildren at the Madrid opera house Teatro Real. According to Spanish news agency EFE, attendees this year were particularly enthusiastic about little Aya and her peculiar way of singing the awards, lengthening the vowel of "miiiiiiiil" euros.

aw/sms (AP, AFP, dpa, AP, EFE)

5 years after El Gordo