El Gordo: The Spanish Christmas Lottery

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€.

Your friendly neighbourhood travel guide,

– Teddy


4 comments. Leave new

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

Hi! With reference to your article on the Spanish Christmas Lottery/El Gordo held on 22nd December every year I have a couple of questions and I do hope that you could clear it for me. Are foreigners living abroad allowed to buy tickets online. A couple of websites have mentioned that residents of Spain are only allowed to play.
Do let me know if this is true. Please do let me know the legitimate website that sells tickets online.

Thank you.
Have a great day.

Warm Regards,

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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