One lucky neighborhood in Madrid landed one of the largest lottery jackpots in history last Christmas. More than 2.5 billion euros were divided up among thousands of winners across the country, with many of the winners concentrated in one neighborhood of Madrid, and others in the southern coastal city of Cadiz. Most of the winners got payouts of around 400,000 euros.
Unlike other lotteries that only offer one mega-jackpot or just a handful of winning tickets, Spain’s holiday season lottery “El Gordo,” or the Big One, distributes payouts to thousands of people across the country. The average payout on a winning ticket in the Big One ranges from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of euros.
Spain’s “El Gordo” lives up to its name as the world’s biggest lottery. Millions of Spainards tuned in to the four-hour long drawing show on Spanish TV just days away from Christmas Eve. But despite the national coverage, most of the winners came from just a handful of lucky neighborhoods in the entire country received batches of the winning tickets.
The owners of the lottery office that sold many of the winning tickets in that lucky Madrid neighborhood held a public celebration on the streets outside the office following the announcements on national TV. Winners, reporters and the office staff joined together in a music-filled celebration loaded with champagne and newly minted dreams.
Spain has been in the economic doldrums since its real estate market collapsed in 2008. But if anything Spain’s recent economic troubles have spurred even greater enthusiasm for the national lottery, and especially “El Gordo,” a Christmas season exclusive. The ambitions of the new lottery winners have been changed by the economic crisis, though: instead of new cars or houses, many of the winners say they intend to pay off old debts.