It’s that time again …

The Christmas lottery adverts are similar in Spain to the John Lewis adverts in the UK, often real tear jerkers, and this year’s campaign has not one but four videos telling the stories of those Unidos Por Un Décimo (United by a tenth). The videos, and indeed the Christmas lottery campaign itself, have a dedicated official website HERE and all tell a story based on the theme of those united by sharing a lottery ticket.

I’m often asked about the Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo (the Fat One), which is drawn just before Christmas every year with much fanfare. The tickets (billetes) have a number and are divided into tenths (décimos) which each cost €20. So what you are buying for €20 is one tenth (a décimo) of one ticket (billete). The ten décimos in a ticket means that a whole ticket costs €200.

The overall pot is enormous – we are talking €2.38 billion this year! This is the biggest lottery of them all, hence being known as The Fat One of course, but this vast prize is the total prize pot. There are five top prizes – divided between all the tickets sold with that number – and then hundreds of smaller prizes known as ‘la pedrea’ (shower of prizes). Tickets are released in around 200 ‘series’, so there could be 200 or so billetes with the same number in different series, making 2000 or so decimo holders who are winners of any given prize.

El Gordo is marketed as tradition, and the whole thing is made magical with the draw taking hours and televised live with lots of gold decorations and huge ball drums with singing children drawing the numbers. But the chances aren’t great when you take into account that you have to match the number and then, if you have a décimo, win only a tenth of the ticket’s prize value. Really, what makes El Gordo the real “fat one” is that it’s a massive revenue-generating exercise for the government. And, of course, winnings are now taxed!

I wouldn’t wish to put anyone off buying a piece of a dream for Christmas, and El Gordo certainly has that fantasy feel about it, but I would say that the best bet is a Bonoloto ticket. These cost virtually nothing compared to El Gordo tickets, and have comparatively really quite decent prizes for winners – in the single millions for tickets costing €3 or so – and the ticket price goes to charity! An alternative is the Primitiva, which is also cheaper to play and gives bigger individual prizes than the main draw! For those who want to take part in El Gordo, however, this year’s El Gordo is on 22 December and you can buy tickets on the dedicated website. Whichever lottery you participate in, I hope your lucky number comes up! Mucha suerte a todos! Good luck everyone!

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