El Gordo: The Spanish Christmas Lottery

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Once December hits, the city of Madrid is flooded with Christmas tradition, and El Gordo is one of them! This is a tradition that goes beyond a simple lottery, it’s the second longest continuously running lottery in the world and as measured by the total prize payout is considered the biggest lottery worldwide. It’s always celebrated on 22nd of December.

The period of selling tickets for the draw is the largest during the year, because you can start buying it all the way in July! It´s based on tickets with different amount of price, but the most purchased one is known as “el décimo” that costs 20€. There is a long standing tradition that says you always have to pay for the ticket, and never accept it as a gift. Otherwise it won´t be a winning one. Aside from the lottery itself, Spaniards all over the country eagerly anticipate the announcement of the promotional video. These adverts play like mini movies that try to evoke the spirit of the holidays. Viewers usually finish the video with a few tears in their eyes and are ready to start spending holiday time with friends and family.

The most exciting part is the moment when El Gordo is drawn. Lottery outlets usually only sell tickets for one or two numbers, so the winners of the largest prizes often live in the same town or area or work for the same company. The prize of El Gordo is 4.000.000 €. The total amount paid out is 2,240,000,000€.

You can buy your El Gordo tickets at any official lottery stand in your city – they are called loterias y apuestas del estado and during the Christmas season you’ll find them easily by following the very large lines of people!

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

7 Comments. Leave new

  • I bought one and I wish everyone who bought one good luck.
    Odds are 001-100,000
    Thank you lotto land online website.

  • Sarah Kelly
    30/11/2022 18:16

    Hi can I purchase a ticket on line from uk ?

  • Hello,
    Do you have to be a Spanish passport holder to participate?

    • Hey Stella! Internationals are allow to participate as well. Just make sure you bring your passport with you when buying your ticket!

  • Verena Brinkmann
    27/11/2016 15:18

    Hey there! With regard to el Gordo: how do you get to know if you won something? I’ll be leaving Spain the 22nd of December and am not sure if I should buy a ticket to the lottery or not because I won’t be able to collect a prize if I won something.. what do you think?
    Best regards,

    • Hey Verena!

      This is a very good question! On the official website you can make an account and actually buy your ticket online. It seems like they announce the numbers there. As far as actually collecting the prize, I’m not certain but take a look at the website below and maybe you’ll find something :).


      – Leah

  • Joachim Wolf
    09/12/2015 12:37

    Hello Linda!

    It is our understanding that anyone (every tourists) are welcome to participate in El Gordo! You can check out their website or purchase tickets right here in the city!


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