El Gordo Navidad – Thursday 22nd DecemberWednesday December 21st 2011
As traditions go, the El Gordo Navidad draw, which takes place on Thursday 22nd December, is one of the country's most loved lotteries, and will have all eyes in Spain watching this special draw. The El Gordo Navidad, which roughly translates as ‘the Christmas jackpot’ has the biggest prize pool available to win in the world. Tomorrow will see ticket holders all try and win one of the 1,202,490 cash prizes from the €2.5 billion (US $3.25 million) prize pool. While many world lotteries work by smaller amounts of players winning large sums of money, the El Gordo Navidad works slightly differently.
Instead of just one player winning the entire €2.5 billion to themselves, this impressive prize is split into smaller sums of money, which means more ticket holders can win a prize. The first prize in the El Gordo Navidad draw tomorrow is worth €4 million (US$5.2 million) and although this prize might be considered by some people as low, there are 180 €4 million jackpots available to win. The second prize in this lottery consists of another 180 prizes worth €1.25 million, and then almost 350,000 prizes of €1,000 (US$1,300) will be on offer to win.
The El Gordo Navidad draw has become embedded into the culture of Spain since its first ever draw, which took place nearly two hundred years ago in 1812. It is classed as such as special event in Spain because it is common for groups of friends or even whole Spanish villages to buy tickets for this draw together and sit down and watch the draw which can last up to five hours.
The elaborate draw ceremony makes the El Gordo Navidad draw last quite a while. A team of 35 pupils from the Colegio de San Ildefonso school in Madrid have been training for the last three months in preparation for their key role, which has the children drawing the lottery balls from the two big ball vessels used, known as ‘bombos’ in Spain, followed by singing out the results to the viewing public as well as to the lottery authorities. One bombo holds balls with the lottery numbers, the other bombo holds balls with the prize values. With 100,000 balls in the numbers ball bombo, it is a process that takes a long time, and has the country gripped as they hope for their number to come up.
The Gordo Navidad draw is open to the public and held, for the second time at the Palacio de Congresos de Madrid, although capacity is limited. The majority of Spain will be watching the El Gordo Navidad draw on television, which is broadcast live nationally on Thursday.
Written by Katelin Thompson