El Gordo History
Spain's annual Christmas lottery, El Gordo, or 'The Fat One', is Spain's mostly highly regarded lotto game. El Gordo first took place in Cadiz in 1812, and since that time there has not been a year the lottery did not take place.
The El Gordo is hailed for having the largest prize pool in the world, which starts at $2 billion. It's also played by a majority of Spanish citizens because a majority of the money, 70% to be exact, is distributed in prizes throughout the country as opposed to going directly to the state.
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How Does It Work?
The Christmas themed Spanish Lottery works differently from other major lotto games. To buy a whole ticket and have a chance at winning costs $200, but most players use a group composed of friends and family members to buy individual shares, often throwing in $20 each. By having such high tickets costs it forces people to the El Gordo a highly social event.
Each ticket contains a series of 5 digits, ranging from #00000 to #99999. Because there only 100,000 truly unique ticket numbers, every ticket number is printed out multiple times under a number series (i.e. Series 005). This allows the Spanish Lottery to print out more than 100,000 tickets.
The prize amounts for each level will differ from year to year, but here's a quick summary of what went down during the most recent 2016 El Gordo lottery.
• In 2016, total lottery winnings reached $2.4 billion.
• The top prize worth $418,000 was won by 1,650 individual ticket holders bearing the number series 66513. Each person takes home $418,000.
• A single ticket vendor based in Madrid, Spain sold all 1,650 top prize winning tickets.