Spanish Lottery

There are many great aspects when it comes to El Gordo which we look at in detail below. Our in-depth guide includes everything a player will need to know about the Spanish Christmas Lottery, including how to play, how it works and it’s odds and prizes. You will also learn about the annual lottery’s biggest winners. We also answer common questions related to the Spanish Christmas Lottery so that you have everything you need to know all there is about this popular game. Read on below to discover more.

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How to Play El Gordo Online

If you’re in Spain, there are thousands of Spanish Christmas Lottery retailers to choose from. However, with the advancements in online options, it’s much simpler to opt for an online retailer who provides better proof of your ticket and includes more details. To play El Gordo lottery online is easy as you simply need to choose your tickets, check-out and wait for the draw. There’s a much bigger variety of tickets to choose from and multiple values for bigger prizes.

Most online ticket sellers provide the option to buy a division of a ticket as the full ticket costs cost around the €200 mark. As we discuss further below, you can buy a ticket from just €2.00, which gives you 1% ownership of the ticket. Should the series (full ticket) result in any winnings, 1% of the payout would be yours. Many Spanish Christmas online ticket sellers include the option to buy multiple tickets from the same series, allowing your total winning percentage to increase.

For example, buying 10 tickets at €2.00 each from the same series would provide a total of 10% of the winnings collected by the ticket. The online system includes many other advantages, including the ability to purchase tickets from multiple series. Most online vendors purchase multiple full tickets, giving players the option to buy various numbers for an increased opportunity to win. You can either buy 1% of each ticket or increase the winnings on the numbers you think will be lucky.

Christmas and Lotto belong together in Spain in a way

It’s important to play with a licensed online lottery provider as some retailers include a large mark-up on tickets. It’s quite standard to include a small mark-up, but some even doubt the price of each ticket, which drastically increases the overall cost of the all the tickets you’d like to buy. Online Spanish El Gordo lottery sellers make it easy to see how much you’ve won and which of your tickets have collected winnings. Prize giving is usually the day after the draw for online players as sellers need to check the tickets and confirm any payouts before notifying the winners.

Introduction to Spanish Christmas Lottery

The Spanish Christmas Lottery is one of the biggest and oldest lotteries in the world. It’s played only once a year on the 22nd of December since 1812. Often referred to as El Gordo by English media, the lottery holds a big enough reputation to capture the attention of all lottery players worldwide. In fact, it’s become such an extravagant activity that even those who don’t play lottery or gamble, tend to buy tickets for this annual international lottery.

El Gordo is the most famous Christmas lottery in Spain

The Spanish Christmas Lottery is unique in multiple ways, which begins with marketing, months leading up to the draw. Spanish television is known for featuring the lottery in different styles, not only making it more interesting, but also attracting more ticket holders on a national level. This and many other marketing mediums lead the event to be one of the most successful lotteries in the world.

Based on its popularity and exposure to locals, it can be said that over 98% of all Spanish adults take part in the annual lottery every year. Furthermore, on the draw date, there are more unique features made available as millions from around the world tune in to watch the event. Instead of calling out the numbers as with traditional lotteries, students from the San Ildefonso School reveal each winning number and the value of the win by singing it. Since the El Gordo lottery only uses a combination of 5 numbers without the addition of bonus balls, you’d expect fewer opportunities to win.

However, Spanish Christmas lottery actually includes more rewards than regular lotteries. Each draw provides over 15,000 winning combinations, rewarding players with a variety of prizes. For example, with 5 numbers, a total of 100,000 combinations are possible, thus, the lottery divides into sectors (copies), which recreate the same numbers, allowing even more players to take part and win their share. In 2017, El Gordo created 170 sectors, providing 17 million tickets in total. These tickets have up to 100 shares each, bringing down the total price and rewarding each player a share of the jackpot.

History: A Look at How Spanish Christmas Lottery Started

It’s a common misconception that the El Gordo lottery is the oldest in the world as it’s more than 250 years old while the first lottery began in Roman times. Ever since, this form of gambling has proven popular as a method of fund raising, not only for war as seen with the Romans, but for other national gains as well. In fact, China used a similar method to complete the Wall of China, which is where popular lottery-style games such as Keno first became available. The history of Christmas lottery could result in some confusion as many consider the very first of its kind to be the Spanish El Gordo variation. However, the first of its kind was held in 1763 in Madrid to raise funds for the war with Portugal.

The first Spanish lottery (Loteria Real) started when a former Spanish minister witnessed a lottery by the Italians. Presented to King Carlos III, he agreed the lottery method was suitable for fund-raising method and called on Italian lottery professionals to aid in the development. The first Loteria Real draw took place on the 10th of December 1763, in Madrid. Different from the Christmas Lottery as we know it today, the first draw consisted of 90 wooden balls, of which the player had to choose 5 numbers. The lottery became an instant success, presenting almost double the expected gains in revenue and receiving the name, Loteria Real. In 1811, with the invasion of Napoleon’s Grand Armee, the Spanish parliament saw a need for even more funds to defend.

However, with the Spanish population being against the idea of additional spending on military, the new lottery for an orphanage took care of children who have lost their parents as part of the war. However, it was later revealed that the orphanage stood as a simply cover up and funds were actually used for the war. In addition to the successful Loteria Real, the government decided on a lottery that carried the label or an orphanage donation platform. The new lottery was created to operate just before Christmas with the idea that people were more likely to buy tickets alongside gifts for the festive season.

In 1811, the first “Christmas Lottery” turned out to be a disaster as approval only arrived on the 25th of December. Instead, the first draw took place on the 4th of March 1812. Once again, the new lottery turned out to be a success, even though it was 3 months late and in the South West due to being surrounded by Napoleon. The lottery moved to various locations thereafter due to the rebuild of the country, but finally settling in its permanent home in Madrid. After the war and seeing off Napoleon, the profits from the Spanish Christmas Lottery had finally been donated to the orphanage as promised in the beginning, called San Ildefonso, the same school who currently sings the winning numbers.

Spanish Christmas Lottery Tickets

Unlike most modern lotteries, the Spanish Christmas lottery provides various ticket prices, based on divisions of full tickets. As mentioned, there are only 100,000 possible combinations with each sector, meaning 100,000 tickets. These come with a cost of €200 each. However, to provide a broad variety of prices, these tickets are sub-divided, providing much lower prices per ticket along with a lower share of the jackpot. Each ticket of €200 provides 100% of the jackpot prize, should all the numbers of that ticket be winning numbers. It’s also possible to buy tickets for a tenth of that price (€20), which includes the exact same numbers. Should the full ticket win the jackpot, players holding a tenth of the ticket receive 10%.

Become a millionaire with a ticket to the lottery – the dream of many.

A further division includes 10% of the tenth ticket or simply 1% of the jackpot. Naturally, the purchase prices of these tickets are also 1% of the standard ticket (€2). These tickets also include the same numbers as the single full ticket, meaning any winning from the numbers on the tickets, 1% of the total is the reward for the ticket holder. The Spanish lottery further increases tickets by printing multiple copies of the 100,000 possible combinations. As mentioned above, most years includes over 150 copies of 100,000 tickets.

Even at just 150 copies, the total reaches 15 million tickets at €200 each. These then further divide into shares, making the total amount of ticket holders huge and creating a lot of winnings. These divisions make it possible for various retailers to sell El Gordo lottery tickets. However, since it’s such a major event, the sale of tickets has spread much further than just retailers. In fact, many purchase full tickets and resell them to friends and family, most of which add a small profit while some illegal sellers add a much greater margin to the price.

Online sellers have become yet another popular source to buy tickets who also add a small profit for their services, which is understandable. Since the tickets are accessible online, it provides players from around the world to take part in the annual draw. Therefore, for players from the UK and other countries, buying tickets for the El Gordo lottery has become much easier.

An Increase in Supply of Tickets

Spanish Lottery Results Tonight

As the lottery becomes more popular, the value of the jackpot increases, and the number of copies increase as well. For example, in 2013, the lottery consisted of 160 series, each representing a duplicate of the 100,000 possible numbers, starting with 00000 through to 99999. In 2017, the series increased to 170 copies, adding 1 million additional tickets to the draw. These increases the prizes, which divide into 17 prize categories, the lowest being a refund on your ticket when you have the same last digit as the winning ticket.

The increase in series is purely caused by the additional demand, especially with international players buying tickets from online retailers. This further increases the total prizes for the draw, offering everyone higher prizes, even when just 1% of a ticket is owned.

Spanish Christmas Odds and Prizes

The El Gordo Spanish Lottery is one of the most popular for all the reasons mentioned above, but the biggest attraction is how much people can win. Compared to other major lotteries such as the Euro Millions, the El Gordo lottery features incredible odds. The Euro Millions comes with odds of 1 in almost 140 million while the El Gordo Spanish Lottery has odds of just 1 in 100,000 to win the jackpot. These odds are possible for various reasons.

First, there are no power balls, star balls or special numbers that need to form part of the winning combination. You only need 5 numbers to match that of the draw to win the jackpot. Secondly, since the Spanish Lottery includes multiple copies of each combination, it’s possible for more players to win. For example, if there are 150 copies, then 150 tickets will activate the jackpot. There are various prizes involved that doesn’t only include the jackpot.

It also doesn’t require having a certain amount of matching numbers to win, as the lottery offers 17 different ways to win a share of the jackpot, creating well over 10,000 ways to win, each ranging from the grand prize through to lower winnings that’s equal to the price of your ticket. It’s common for players to win multiple prizes, especially those who purchase multiple numbers within the same series.

Biggest Spanish Christmas Lottery Winners

Spanish Christmas Lottery

Below, we look at the prize breakdown from 2017, which included a total pool of almost €2.4 billion. There were 170 copies of 100,000 combinations, meaning a total of 170 million shared tickets (tenths). The 2017 draw presented 15,304 winners within each series, which creates a winner in every 6.5 sold tickets. The prizes below feature the winnings with each series, meaning each player holding a full jackpot ticket will receive the same full value. Each series is treated individually, giving everyone the opportunity to win big!

  • First place, also known as El Gordo requires a perfect match of all 5 numbers for a winning of €4 million.
  • The second prize includes only 1 winner per series with a winning of €1, 25 million
  • Third place once again includes 1 winner per series with a reward of €500, 00.
  • Fourth place rewards 2 lucky players with €200,000 each.
  • Fifth place provides a winning of €60,000 to 8 players.


The first 5 prizes are by far the most attractive, but only the beginning of the rewards available with the El Gordo Spanish Lottery. The remaining positions depend on the numbers surrounding the winning values, making it possible to win huge amounts even without having any matching numbers from the draw. These include 11 additional prize categories, each rewarding multiple players from the same series with equal winning values.

The El Gordo Draw

Spanish Lottery Name

Typical Markets

To play the El Gordo lottery means a full day of exciting reward opportunities. Not only for players in Spain, but for everyone around the world as well. Each year includes the same range of prizes and draws throughout the 22nd of December. The draw takes place in various locations throughout Madrid. However, it always consists of the same draws and exciting prizes.

The pupils of San Ildefonso provide the actual draw and additional prizes throughout the day. The former public servant orphans traditionally sing out the numbers as with each draw as millions from around the world scan through their tickets in search of matching numbers or other possible combinations.

Design and Structure

Prior to 1984, the draw involved only boys from San Ildefonso, which changed when Monica Rodriguez became the first singing girl with the 4th prize draw.

At the beginning the draw involved only boys from San Ildefonso

The actual draw consists of two spherical cades. The first contains 100,000 wooden balls to this day, each offering one of the combinations of 5 numbers, starting with 00000 through to 99999. Before the draw, the public can see the balls, allowing players to ensure their numbers are in fact part of the draw.

The only changes made to the draw itself were the balls, which is now perfected by machines that ensure all are of equal weight and size. The second cage is smaller and only contains 1,807 balls, which aren’t marched with numbers, but values instead, which determine the winning values from the bigger cage.

How the El Gordo Draw Takes Place?

Each draw requires a ball from the big cage and the small. The number of the big cage determines the winning ticket and the ball from the smaller cage shows the winning value. Therefore, the sequence of the draw is somewhat unplanned as the winning ball can be drawn at the beginning, halfway through or at the end of the day.

This draw style keeps the day exciting as some tickets might show smaller winnings earn in the day while other tickets produce massive winnings with additional opportunities to follow. The children involved with the El Gordo Spanish Lottery tend to work 8 to 9 hour shifts by singing out the drawn number along with the value of the winning. Each time bigger wins are down, they would repeat the win by singing it multiple times.

Winners of the Spanish lottery are expected to donate to San Ildefonso as part of their contribution for the children’s efforts on the day. During the draw, the children add the winning numbers and values to a long wire for display purposes. There are holes in each of the balls for this display, which tend to create an impressive sight once the draw includes enough balls. Even though the children draw these numbers by chance, big winnings warrant an applause. Once the jackpot numbers are drawn, the show immediately broadcasts the winning numbers on television.

Final Thoughts

The El Gordo Spanish Christmas Lottery yields an exciting platform of opportunities for millions from around the world. Sure, it’s only played once a year, but this has added to the excitement of the draw, especially with the winning values on offer. The fact that much of the profits go to an orphanage is simply another major plus point as it gives the sense of giving back around the festive season, which is only one of the many reasons the majority of Spanish adults plays the Spanish Christmas Lottery.

Many El Gordo lottery players tend to play no other lotteries as the odds of winning are too high and the tickets don’t offer as many winning opportunities. As mentioned, the El Gordo lottery includes some of the highest odds of winning, which might not include the jackpot, but since 17 winning opportunities are available, it naturally increases the opportunity to win a prize equal to or higher than the ticket value.

You can participate in the Spanish Christmas Lottery online all over the world.

The online industry has increased the sales of the Spanish Lottery drastically, allowing millions from around the world to participate in the annual draw. This increases the amount of ticket sales by large amounts, allowing more series to be added and profit to increase even more. In years to come, the jackpot amounts are expected to real new highs, breaking records along the way and giving even more players a special Christmas gift.

Spanish El Gordo Lottery FAQ

Since the Spanish lottery only available once a year, there are millions from around the world who aren’t sure about how it works. Therefore, we provide a full FAQ section to provide answers to the questions you make have.

    • Q: Do I have to be Spanish to Play El Gordo Lottery?
    • A: No, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. The online system allows you to buy tickets as if you were in Spain and the winnings are all yours. The lottery adds your winnings to your online account, which you can then withdraw via a financial method of your choice.
    • Q: Are Spanish Christmas Lottery Winnings Taxable?
    • A: Any winning below the value of €2,500 aren’t taxable. However, winnings valued above this amount are subject to 20% tax. These tax values automatically subtracted before any winnings reach your account. Therefore, any payouts in your online lottery account will be tax free.
    • Q: How Many Spanish Christmas Lottery Tickets Can I Buy?
    • A: No, you can buy as many tickets as you’d like. It’s also possible to purchase tickets from multiple series. However, ensure you don’t buy the same numbers when shopping from multiple copies. Unless of course, you’re convinced that will be the winning numbers and you’d like to further enhance your payouts.
    • Q: Can I Play with El Gordo online from the UK?
    • A: Yes, the El Gordo lottery can be played with almost anywhere in the world and with any currency. Simply choose the preferred currency in your online account and the prizes will automatically adjust based on the current exchange rate. The same occurs with your winnings that appear in Pound in your account but add up to the same value in Euros at the time of payment.

Village people slot game. 172 million tickets are available for purchase, consisting of 172 ‘series’ of 100,000 ticket numbers, with each ticket split into tenths for sale.

One tenth of a ticket sells for €20, meaning total sales will be equal to €3.44bn, of which 70% will be paid in prizes.

Spanish christmas lottery

The first prize, popularly known as ‘El Gordo’, is worth €400,000 per tenth of a ticket, the second prize is valued at €125,000, and third prize will total €50,000 per tenth.

For each winning combination, prizes will be paid out to the corresponding ticket holders in each of the 172 series. That means that the top ‘El Gordo’ prize is likely to pay out €688m across all series.

President of SELAE, Jesús Huerta Almendro, said: “Although this Christmas will be different, there are elements and customs that always remain. One of them is our Christmas Lottery. One of our most deeply rooted traditions, which has been accompanying us one generation after another for more than two centuries, and which gives us that much-needed hope in these difficult times.”

He highlighted that SELAE, a non-profit company that returns its revenues to Spanish society, “is not alien to the situation we live in, because it affects our daily lives. For this reason, we were very clear that we must reclaim the common values that Loterías shares with citizens. So this year’s campaign focuses on the positives that must be taken out of difficult times.”

The lottery’s campaign began today, and will be broadcast in the media in the coming weeks with the slogan ‘sharing as always, sharing as never before’.

SELAE has also announced that the lottery’s draw will have the greatest health security measures used in its history, and will take place without the presence of the public as in previous years.

The operator said it has been working for months together with Madrid’s Royal Theatre, where the draw is held, and the San Ildefonso school, from which pupils participate in the draw each year, to develop a health security protocol to protect the participating children, lottery workers and media.

Measures agreed by the institutions include mandatory mask wearing for all present, only to be removed by those children who will announce the winning numbers during the announcement, during which they will maintain a safe social distance of two metres.

There will also be a screen to protect lottery workers, and the presidential table, which usually seats five members, will instead seat four in order to ensure social distancing.

The draw will also take place without the presence of the public, and the maximum number of media professionals allowed will be reduced by 50%.

La Loteria De Navidad

Results published this month showed that Spain’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) had fallen 50% year-on-year between January and October, as state-owned lottery operators SELAE and ONCE brought in just €1.9bn, down 58.6% compared to €4.59bn in 2019.