Just a few more nights and then it's that time again: the Spanish Christmas lottery El Gordo, which means something like the Fat or the Fatty. Where does that nickname actually come from?
Although many think that this name refers to the big prize pool, we have to go back to the 18th century for the origin of the word. An advertising caricature was designed at the time to promote the lottery, El Enano Afortunado (the Lucky Dwarf). As the name of this character suggests, this figure was small and stocky, adorned with numerous numbers. Over time, the advertising campaigns changed, but the name stuck.
The Spanish Christmas lottery is one of the oldest in the world. The origin actually had nothing to do with Christmas: during the War of Independence, Spain needed money to finance the war against the French. And so the first draw was held on December 18, 1812. It wasn't until 1892 that the lottery was renamed the Christmas lottery, which now takes place on December 22.
Race for the Winning Ticket
As soon as the first tickets are for sale, the race to find the Winning Ticket begins. In Madrid, the famous lottery sale of Doña Manolita is the sales point par excellence. Every year, queues that stretch for miles form here. Tenerife has similar hotspots, such as the Repsol gas station 'La Chasnera' on the TF1, which sells a few winning numbers every year.
Superstition and Artificial Intelligence
Choosing a lottery number is often steeped in superstition, such as entering a lottery office with the left foot first, carrying a gold coin in the wallet, or rubbing the lottery ticket on a pregnant woman's belly.
This year, modern technology joins the mix and takes an analytical approach: ChatGPT suggests, after comparing all draws since 1812, that the winning number could well be 02695or 03695. An interesting twist in the age-old tradition...but it remains a game of luck.
The big day itself…
On December 22 at 7:30 am, Canary Time, the gates of the Teatro Real in Madrid will open for the Christmas lottery draw. Access is free and open to everyone, but the capacity is limited. Fortunately, the drawing can also be followed on television and will be streamed on the website of the Loterías y Apuestas del Estado.
Students from the Colegio de San Ildefonso draw the winning numbers from the drums while singing. They have been presenting this lottery for 171 years, a tradition observed by an official committee.
The prize pool this year is no less than 2,590 million euros.
A complete ticket consists of 10 tickets worth 20 euros each. It is common for neighbors, friends or colleagues to buy one full lottery ticket together. Which leads to big parties when an entire group wins a large amount of money.
Whether you're entering in the hope of winning something, or just as an annual Christmas tradition, you can still purchase an ticket until 10pm on December 21, so hurry if you want to enter!
Good luck and ¡Hasta Pronto!