In Spain, the festive season kicks off every year on December 22 with the Christmas Lottery, often known as ‘El Gordo‘, and you can join in tradition online and have a chance at winning your share of over two billion euros in prize money.
Usually, people buy a ‘decimo’ (tenth) of a number, with this ticket giving them a shot at winning between 100 euros and 400,000 euros, depending when that number is drawn. Then, on the morning of the 22nd, everyone gathers round the television to witness what is a long, protracted draw.
The winning numbers and the sums awarded to them are sung out by students of Madrid’s San Ildefonso school, originally an orphanage, and while it certainly can get a bit repetitive after it’s been going on for a while, it all adds to the sense of occasion and tradition. The larger winners gradually emerge as tension grows for the announcement of the big one, ‘El Gordo‘.
Can foreigners buy Spanish lottery?
The Christmas lottery may be a very Spanish tradition, dating back to 1812, but you don’t have to be Spanish or even living in Spain to take part. Tourists can buy lottery tickets at state-sanctioned vendors when visiting the country, and anyone can purchase them online at elgordo.com.
If you are able to get a ticket in Spain, you may notice that some lottery vendors have bigger queues than others and this is all part of the superstition that has become such an ingrained part of this famous draw. Some people believe that certain sellers have better luck than others, although in reality the truth is simply that those who sell more tickets are more likely to provide more winners.
How do you claim your lottery winnings in Spain?
If you are lucky enough to have your number called, you’ll need to know how to claim your prize and this varies slightly depending on the amount. Winnings up to 2,500 euros can be redeemed at any lottery vendor, while bigger jackpots can be claimed from certain Spanish banks or the official Spanish lottery organisation – Loterias y Apuestas del Estado – or if you play online, your account shout be credited with the prize automatically.
Prizes must be claimed within three months of the draw and amounts over 40,000 euros will be subject to a 20% tax. This should be automatically deducted from the prize, so no need to worry about working it out or filling in paperwork.
How to check your Spanish lottery ticket
One way to find out if you’ve won is to tune in on the morning of the 22nd and watch and listen as every number is called out, anxiously checking your own ticket clutched in your hand. If you take a break or miss a section, forget or simply choose not to put yourself through the whole affair, there are simple methods to find out if you’ve been lucky.
Various websites will list the winning numbers, with many also offering handy trackers, allowing you to enter your ticket number and stake to find out what you may have won. You can check your numbers via MARCA’s Spanish lottery checker here as well.