Best El Gordo Lottery in 2022

El Gordo is Spanish for "The Big One" and is the name usually given to the Spanish Christmas Lottery (although, to be fair, the official Spanish name is Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad or Lotería de Navidad. It's played every year on 22 December, and it is the biggest Spanish lottery – hence its name. It has to be said that strictly speaking, the term El Gordo refers to the top prize in any Spanish lottery.

(The expression can also be used quite insultingly to describe a person as "The Fat One" – but we won't think about that here. Looking at in terms of prize money, it's the biggest lottery in the world. Tickets cost €20, 70% of all ticket sales are distributed as prize money and so many tickets are sold that €2.31 billion is available for prizes and €720 million for the top prize ("El Gordo").

Best El Gordo Lottery in 2022
Where to buy tickets for El Gordo
Where to buy tickets for El Gordo

Where to buy tickets for El Gordo

It's easy to buy a lottery ticket online for El Gordo. The website is easy to find and welcoming. Unlike a lot of lotteries, you don't have to be resident in Spain – if it's legal in whatever country you live in to buy lotto tickets, the authorities in Spain will be happy to take your money, and equally happy to send you your winnings if you get lucky.

Where to buy tickets for El Gordo
History of El Gordo

History of El Gordo

El Gordo it is a special draw of Lotería Nacional, the Spanish national lottery run by Loterías y Apuestas del Estado which is owned by the Spanish government. Its history goes back a long way; in fact, only one lottery in the world has been running continuously for longer than Lotería Nacional, which held its first draw on 4 March 1812 and the first Christmas draw on 18 December 1812. It’s been called Sorteo de Navidad since 1892.

History of El Gordo
How to play El Gordo

How to play El Gordo

The short answer is, buy your ticket. Once you have done that, the rest is out of your hands. This is how the lottery works. First of all, the tickets are divided into ten parts (called "decimos") and you can choose to buy anything from one part to the whole ticket.

The numbers are drawn by pupils of the San Ildefonso school which, when this tradition began, was reserved for the orphaned children of public servants. Another, related tradition was that winners would donate some of their prize money to the school. As the children draw the numbers, they sing the results. The whole thing is broadcast on television.

The children use two large spherical cages, in the first of which are 100,000 small wooden balls, each with a unique 5-digit ticket number on it, from 00000 to 99999 while in the other are 1,807 small wooden balls, each one representing a prize written in Euros:

  • 1 ball for the first prize
  • 1 ball for the second prize
  • 1 ball for the third prize
  • 2 balls for the fourth prizes
  • 8 balls for the fifth prizes
  • 1,794 balls for the small prizes
How to play El Gordo
What are the odds to win El Gordo?

What are the odds to win El Gordo?

The overall odds of winning a prize are pretty good at 1:6.5. Of course, that includes the almost 1800 small prizes; but the odds of winning the big one and the second and third prizes are 1 in 100,000, which is considerably better than the odds in winning the top prize in many of the world's largest lottery draws.

This falls to 1 in 50,000 for the fourth prize and 1 in 12,500 for the fifth. The reason that these odds are better than for many other draws is that 70% of all ticket sales are returned in the form of prizes – and that is a high percentage by international standards.

What are the odds to win El Gordo?
Tips and tricks to play El Gordo

Tips and tricks to play El Gordo

Tip number one should probably be: If you don't live in Spain, move there. the next may be to buy your ticket early. Tickets go on sale months before Christmas, the number that will be sold is large but not infinite – it's a raffle and there is a point at which sales will stop – so, if you want to win, the worst thing that can happen is that you wait too long and all the tickets are gone. Buy a whole ticket. And consider finding one of those websites that:

  • Allow you to buy a ticket as though you are resident in Spain, even though you are not; and
  • Run an El Gordo lotto syndicate.

If you join the syndicate, you will share in its winnings. Yes, you'll get less than you would have if you'd bought the whole of the single ticket that won the top prize – but the odds of winning that is something will be a great deal higher.

Tips and tricks to play El Gordo