The Spanish Christmas Lottery El Gordo

27 November 2020 |

Christmas is coming and as every year there is one event that gets us even more excited about the festive season: El Gordo de Navidad, the Spanish Christmas lottery! Also known as Sorteo Extraordinario de Navida it is the highlight of the Spanish Christmas season and also one of the main lottery events of the year. Nearly every person in Spain is getting involved and buys tickets for the chance to win the big prize.

El Gordo – Background

The El Gordo Christmas lottery is a well-established lottery. It goes back all the way to 1812 and since then has never been cancelled. No civil wars and hence also not the COVID pandemic can stop it. Therefore, as every year, it will take place this year on 22 December 2020.

El Gordo is the biggest lottery in the world, paying out prizes worth over €2 billion each year. The amount of sold tickets determines the final prize pool with 70% of the profits generated from tickets sales being paid out. It is not a standard lottery as El Gordo follows a raffle style. 2 machines are used for the draw. The first machine contains 100,000 balls with numbers 00000 to 99999 and draws the winning numbers. The second machine contains 18707 balls with a prize written on each and draws the corresponding prizes.

Since 2011 the tickets have a 5-digit number combination from 00000 to 99999. Therefore, there are 100,000 unique ticket numbers available. As this would limit the amount of people who can participate there are several so-called series. There are 170 series and hence a total of 17 million tickets available.

While 1 full ticket costs €200 you can buy parts of it. Each ticket is divided into 10 identical sub-tickets (decimos) who are available for €20 each. If you would buy the full winning ticket you would win €4 million while if 10 players had a decimo then each would receive €400,000.

Why is the lottery called El Gordo?

El Gordo translates to “the fat one”. The name comes from the main prize, el gordo, which is set at a massive and hence “fat” 4 million Euro. Aside from this top prize there is a total amount of over 2 billion Euro paid out in different prize tiers every year. This makes it the largest lottery draw globally.

There are many prize categories but the main tiers are as follows:

TierPrize Amount (€)Number of Prizes
1st prize (El Gordo)4,000,0001
2nd prize1,250,0001
3rd prize500,0001
4th prize200,0002
5th prize60,0008

Overall there are over 18000 prizes available in the prize pool for various draw results such as ‘first 3 digits of 4th prize’ or ‘Numbers before and after 2nd prize’.

How to participate from South Africa

Until recently El Gordo was only available in Spain but now you can also participate from South Africa by betting on the outcome of the El Gordo draw. Lotto betting sites like Lottoland, Playbet or Sportsbet give you the chance to place various bets and to win the same prizes, including the top prize “El Gordo”.

Getting involved in the biggest lottery worldwide can pay off nicely. The odds are very good compared to other big multi-million jackpot lotteries such as the EuroMillions as El Gordo has a 1-in-7 chance of winning a prize. So if you like playing for big lotto jackpots then El Gordo is definitely one for you.

The Spanish Christmas lottery has a huge tradition in Spain and nearly every person takes part. It is the highlight of the Spanish Christmas season and could also make your Christmas one to remember. So, get involved and place your El Gordo lotto bet. Feliz navidad!

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