It is a tradition that goes back more than 230 years, bringing Spain to a virtual standstill. The El Gordo Christmas lottery has taken place, one of the world’s biggest lotto prizes. The translation of El Gordo is the Fat One. 1.8 billion euros has been handed out, or 70 percent of the value of tickets sold, in a ceremony in which children sing out the prize-winning numbers.
A town called Sort, which appropriately means Luck in the Catalan language, is where the big prize of 390 million euros was sold. The village often takes away the top prize, meaning people queue up there to buy tickets. Many people can benefit from the win because tickets are divided up into hundreds of different segments, and whole villages or large companies buy up entire series of numbers. “I was at work when my brother phoned me in tears and told me I’d won,” said a street cleaner in Sort. “I didn’t believe him. I thought he was joking.” Tickets can be bought over the internet and many tickets are sold overseas. It is reported that earlier this year one type of ticket was selling in London for about 70 euros, more than three times the price in Spain.