While other lotteries have far larger individual prizes, El Gordo is the undisputed largest in the world in terms of the total prize money on offer.
This year’s draw has a top prize for winning tickets of £355,000 (400,000 euros) but the total fund of 2.3bn euros is the largest anywhere in the world.
The hugely popular draw first took place in 1812 and has been held on 22 December every year since, even continuing through the Spanish Civil War and both World Wars.
Standard tickets cost 20 euros and people traditionally pool resources and buy shares in multiple tickets with friends, family or workmates.
The cost of a whole ticket is a whopping 200 euros, meaning that many people will purchase just a tenth of a ticket for 20 euros, with the televised draw proving a popular social occasion.
Governed by a complex set of rules, 70 per cent of the money people have spent on tickets will be distributed as prizes, with the rest kept by the state and official ticket sales points, the Daily Telegraph reported.
An estimated 75 per cent of Spanish adults play the Christmas lottery, with the state company which runs it calculating that Spaniards spend an average of 55 euros on tickets annually.
The draw takes place in Madrid’s Teatro Real opera house and lasts around three hours, as the winning numbers are sung out by schoolchildren in a popular tradition.
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