Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fat One

The Fat One, or "El Gordo" as it's known in Spain, is the Spanish Christmas lottery. It began in 1812 , and is the oldest and biggest lottery in the world.

The Christmas lottery has become a favorite holiday tradition and is held each year on December 22nd. This year, an estimated 2.8 billion euros ($3.90 billion) of tickets were sold, and, nationwide it dished out some euro2.32 billion ($3.23 billion) in prizes.

The Spanish Christmas Lottery works differently to most lotteries in the world. Tickets are very expensive, but you don't have to buy the entire ticket. However, if you don't buy the whole thing, you can't get the whole winnings! Rather than a single jackpot, the lottery aims for a share-out in which thousands of numbers yield at least some kind of return.

The lottery begins at 9:00am and numbers are sung out by pupils of Madrid's Saint Ildefonso School. The process is long (taking in excess of three hours), and people sit by their radios, televisions, or computers for much of the day, waiting for the results.

Today, the top prize, "El Gordo," went to holders of tickets bearing the number 32365 — which appears on 1,950 tickets, each winning euro300,000 ($418,000).

Spain holds another big lottery Jan. 6 to mark the Feast of the Epiphany. It is known as "El Nino" (The Child), in reference to the baby Jesus.

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