Europe

El Gordo: Winners celebrate share in world's richest draw

Laura Puentes and her husband Pablo celebrate selling the winning ticket of the biggest prize in Spain's Christmas lottery "El Gordo" (The Fat One) in Barcelona, 22 December, 2019. Image copyright Reuters

Thousands of people have been celebrating in Spain after winning a share of the €2.38bn ($2.64bn; £2.03bn) prize pot in the world's richest lottery.

Dozens of ticket holders queued through the night outside Madrid's Royal Theatre to watch the draw of El Gordo, which means "the fat one" in Spanish.

There are 170 sets of 100,000 tickets, with each full ticket - costing €200 - entering players into the draw to win the top prize of €4m.

The most common ticket is €20, which gives buyers the chance to win 10% of the top prize - €400,000, before tax. There are also thousands of smaller prizes.

The winning number for the top prize this year was 26590.

Owner of the lottery administration Virgen de La Salceda, Fuensanta Vicente (R), celebrates selling the first prize ticket in Murcia. Image copyright EPA
Couple Yesica Garcia (R) and Alexander Zambrano (L) celebrate at the lottery administration Virgen de La Salceda where they bought their winning ticket. Image copyright EPA

Because the rules of the draw are so complex, and players can buy multiple tickets with the same numbers, it is almost impossible to gauge how many people have won.

Winners and the vendors who sold the tickets popped bottles of cava to celebrate.

Owners and employees of the shop "Dona Manolita" celebrate selling the winning ticket. Image copyright Reuters
Clients of the Restaturant "Pepe" celebrate in San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, Spain, after winning the first prize. Image copyright EPA
People celebrate at the lottery administration number 3 in Alcoy, Alicante. Image copyright EPA
Pablo Nogales and his wife Paloma Rodriguez celebrate selling the winning ticket of the biggest prize at a lottery administration in Sevilla on 22 December 2019. Image copyright Getty Images

The jackpot structure is designed to allow as many people as possible a win - even a small one - or to at least break even with a free ticket.

Every year, millions of people in Spain club together with friends and family for the chance to get a slice of the winnings. Each ticket can be split 10 ways.

Those who bought and sold tickets corresponding with smaller prizes also celebrated on Sunday.

A worker of a lottery office in Madrid celebrates selling the number 10989 that got the second prize in the lottery draw in Madrid. Image copyright EPA
Juan Carlos De Quintana, owner of the lottery administration number 1 in Vitoria celebrates selling the number 00750, awarded the third prize in "El Gordo". Image copyright EPA
People celebrate selling the number 74770, winner of one of the eight 5th prizes of "El Gordo". Image copyright EPA

Many of those attending Sunday's draw dressed in eccentric costumes.

A man is dressed up before the start of the Christmas lottery draw in Madrid. Image copyright Reuters
A woman dressed as a Christmas tree attends the draw at the Royal Theatre. Image copyright AFP
People gather outside the Royal Theatre in Madrid ahead of "El Gordo" draw. Image copyright EPA

The lucky numbers were pulled out of large golden spheres and sung out by schoolchildren in a live televised event.

Workers prepare the items during the eve of the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw at the "Teatro Real", the Royal Opera house in Madrid. Image copyright EPA
Lottery balls are collected before the start of the Christmas lottery in Madrid. Image copyright Reuters
Children from San Ildefonso school pose moments before the start of the draw. Image copyright EPA
A pupil from San Ildefonso school holds the winning number 26590 at the Royal Theatre in Madrid. Image copyright AFP

Spain's Christmas lottery tradition has been going for more than 200 years.

It was first broadcast in 1957 - just one year after Spain got television.

Lottery balls are dropped into a rotating drum during the draw. Image copyright Reuters

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