El Gordo: Single Spanish town wins 2.6 billion euro Christmas lottery

The number 66513 appeared on 1,650 tickets, with each ticket holder winning 400,000 euros

Ciaran Giles
Thursday 22 December 2016 23:04
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Owners of a lottery shop celebrate after selling the lottery ticket 66513 winner of the jackpot of El Gordo (The Fat One) lottery in Madrid, Spain, 22 December, 2016
Owners of a lottery shop celebrate after selling the lottery ticket 66513 winner of the jackpot of El Gordo (The Fat One) lottery in Madrid, Spain, 22 December, 2016

Celebrations erupted across Madrid on Thursday after all the tickets with the top prize-winning number in Spain's 2.6 billion-euro (£2.2 billion) Christmas lottery were sold in one city neighbourhood.

The number 66513 appeared on 1,650 tickets in the lottery known as El Gordo (The Fat One), with each ticket holder winning 400,000 euros (£340,000).

The winning tickets are normally sold in several different lottery offices around the country but this time they were all sold from one office in the modest Acacias neighbourhood of the Spanish capital.

San Idelfonso School students read out the jackpot during El Gordo (The Fat One) lottery draw at the Royal Theatre in Madrid, Spain,

People could be seen celebrating in shops and bars close to the lottery office — and Spanish television broadcast images of people dancing and singing in the streets elsewhere who won some of the lottery's lesser prizes.

Other lotteries have larger individual top prizes but El Gordo, which dates from 1812, is ranked as the world's richest for the total prize money on offer. This year it dished out 25 million prizes. Standard tickets cost 20 euros (£17) and people traditionally chip in and buy shares in several tickets with friends, family or workmates.

One of the fortunate was bank worker Marian Lopez, 37, who is four months pregnant and shared the top winning ticket with her mother.

"The 'Fat One' has struck me twice," she joked, referring to her slight bulge. She said she might spend the money fixing up her house.

Spanish Administration Lottery owner Agustin (CL) answers to journalists as he celebrates having sold the first prize ticket (66513) of Spain's Christmas lottery named "El Gordo" (Fat One) in the Embajadores neighbourhood in Madrid

Vicente Villaverde, 44, a gas company worker who lives across the street from the lottery office, said he has bought tickets ending in 13 for the past six years.

"As I have had so much bad luck in my life, I have always said the number 13 will bring me fortune. And this year it has!" said Mr Villaverde, dressed in blue work overalls.

He said he planned to get speech classes for his seven-year-old son who has Down Syndrome and buy his girlfriend a car.

"The ham, the champagne, the whisky are on me this year!" he told his partner over the phone.

Spanish national lottery shop owners and lottery winners David Lobato (L) Jose Vadillo (2R) celebrate the sale of 50 first prize (66513) tickets in the Spanish Christmas lottery, "El Gordo", in the Basque village of Abadino

Augustin Ramos, who took over running the lucky lottery office four months ago, bought one of the 1,650 tickets for himself and his wife, Maria Josefa Rojo Cabrera.

"I felt happiness seeing that those that won needed it," said Ms Rojo Cabrera.

Queues form outside lottery booths weeks ahead of the Dec. 22 draw and people tune in across all media on Thursday to find out if they are among the lucky ones. The prize ticket numbers are sung out by pupils of Madrid's San Ildefonso School in a nationally televised event from the city's Teatro Real opera house.

Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763, during the reign of King Carlos III, but its objective gradually shifted toward filling state coffers.

Organisers said ticket sales totaled 2.6 billion euros this year, up 3.5 percent from last year.

Associated Press

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