The Ultimate Guide To The El Gordo de Navidad Christmas Raffle

Every year at Christmas, Spaniards go lottery mad, queuing for hours to buy El Gordo de Navidad Christmas Raffle tickets and this year it is bigger than ever! The good news is, the most popular raffle in the world, El Gordo de Navidad, is back and ready to make you a millionaire with a mind-blowing share of US $2.38 billion up for grabs and there’s no queues online!

The number of tickets on sale has risen by 5 million to 170 million meaning the prize money will total €2.38 billion, with the top individual prize, known as El Gordo (the Fat One), being €4 million.

El Gordo de Navidad Spanish Christmas Raffle 2020

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

Christmas has come early at PlayUSALotteries with El Gordo de Navidad raffle tickets currently on sale NOW!

If you’re thinking, “There’s plenty of time to buy El Gordo de Navidad Christmas Raffle tickets and you need a few reasons why you should get your tickets now? Here are just a few:

  • The largest prize pool in the world - With billions of euros handed out in prize money every year, the Spanish Christmas lottery is the biggest in the world. You will stand a chance at winning a prize from the massive €2.38 billion prize pool! That’s HUGE!
  • A massive, life-changing jackpot - Play in the El Gordo de Navidad and your life could change in an instant!
  • Buy shares, or buy your own ticket - Play how you want to play; buy up to 10 shares in a single ticket or buy the whole ticket and win big!
  • Amazing chances at winning a prize - 1 in 3 players wins a prize! That’s reason enough to buy your El Gordo de Navidad ticket right now!
  • Tickets are limited - Tickets are limited so be sure to get yours now. You don't want to miss out on the world's biggest raffle!

History of the Spanish Christmas Raffle

History of the Spanish Christmas Raffle Despite the cheerful fun that the lottery evokes throughout Spain nowadays, its roots took place in Cádiz in 1812 when the government launched the raffle as a way to raise money for the Spanish troops fighting against Napoleon’s armies.

Back then a single lottery ticket cost 40 reales, which would equal out to only six euro cents in modern currency. However, the grand was a whopping 8,000 pesetas, which would be just under €50 today.  In 2020 the average Spanish lottery player spends an average of €66. 16 on lottery entries every year. And the top prize has naturally increased as well and is now worth an approximate €4 million with hundreds of smaller prizes up for grabs.

The draw was initially called El Gordo de Navidad when it belonged to the Spanish National Lottery, but in 1892, seventy years after the first draw, the name of Loteria de Navidad (also El Gordo) was officially established. In 1897, tickets with the Loteria de Navidad name were first printed.

In 2002, the prizes for El Gordo started to be counted in euros with the introduction of the new currency.

In 2004, the draw established a new record with the quickest El Gordo winning numbers in history, shown in just 13 minutes from start to end.

There were only 85,000 numbers up until 2010, generating 195 series in 2009 and 2010. Due to the increasing demand for tickets, the numbers increased to 100,000 in 2011 which saw a raise in profits and the money available in the prize fund.

Modern Day El Gordo de Navidad Raffle

If you mentioned the word “lottery” to a Spaniard, the first thing they would think about was the El Gordo de Navidad (also known as  Lotería de Navidad and officially as Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad). Why? Well, because every December 22, it’s all anyone speaks about. In fact, judging by the Spanish television and media, you’ll think it’s the only thing happening in the world that day.

El Gordo de Navidad Commercials

4-6 weeks before the draw, the organisers of the El Gordo de Navidad release the official TV ad for that particular year. It’s one of the most anticipated moments of the year in Spain because it sets the mood for Christmas and, moreover, because they remind everybody that the year’s biggest lottery is coming up.

The El Gordo de Navidad has had a longstanding tradition with its adverts and latest ones the past few years have set a new standard for lottery commercials worldwide.

Make sure to watch these beautiful ads. They will definitely inspire you to play the El Gordo de Navidad and be part of the global excitement it generates!

The stories in the last couple of years covered great topics, from luck and humour, to love and loss.

El Gordo de Navidad Spanish Christmas Commercials

Find your luck and play El Gordo de Navidad online

For those that have had the pleasure to travel to Spain and you found yourself there on December 22nd, you know just how exciting the El Gordo de Navidad really is. However, anyone can play El Gordo de Navidad. As long as you have an internet connection and a few quid to buy an El Gordo de Navidad ticket, you can be part of this incredible Spanish Christmas Raffle. Experience the thrill of winning a huge prize and buy an El Gordo de Navidad ticket online right here at

Online El Gordo de Navidad players can select from a range of different tickets. These all have different number combinations. All you have to do is select the ones you like to buy shares (décimos) of and pay for them using the best payment method available online for your particular region.

Once you have purchased your ticket, you will receive a unique transaction ID. After that, all you have to do is wait for the draw to take place on the 22nd of December.

If your ticket is drawn and you become an El Gordo de Navidad winner, you will receive a results mailer informing you of the winning numbers and any matches you may have had.

Even though online lottery players can buy Spanish Christmas Raffle tickets months before the time – tickets are subject to availability – So don't buy your ticket too late or all the lottery tickets can be sold out!

How the Spanish Christmas Lottery works


Here are some of the most common terms and phrases you’ll hear being tossed around in reference to the Spanish Christmas lottery.

  • Billete: A billete divided into 10 décimos of the same number that belong to the same serie. The drawing consists of 170 series and there are 170 billetes for every número.
  • Décimo: One-tenth of a lottery ticket.
  • Número: The main five-digit number of a billete, décimo or participación.
  • Participación: A smaller fraction of a décimo. Many small businesses or even some individuals will buy décimos and then divide each of them into a certain number of participaciones for others to purchase at a price of the décimo owner’s choice.


There is a total of €2.31bn in prizes. There are over 15,000 prizes (from €200 to €4m per number) in different prize categories for each of the 17 series. The biggest prize is called El Gordo (‘the fat one’).

If you bought a whole winning billete (number), you would win €4m; if you bought a décimo, you would win €400,000.

In this table below, you can check how much you would win, if you bought one winning décimo:

Prize name No. of prizes  Prize per decimo
El Gordo  (‘The Fat One’)  1 €400,000
Segundo (‘second’) 1 €125,000
Tercero (‘third’) 1 €50,000
Cuarto (‘fourth’) 2 €20,000
Quinto (‘fifth’) 8 €6,000

These prizes above are the main ones, but you can also win some money in other cases. For example, your ticket number may be an aproximación – the number immediately preceding or following El Gordo, the second prize or the third prize. You also win prizes if the first three digits of your ticket number coincide with the first three digits of the first, the second or the third prize; or if the last two digits of your number coincide with the last two digits of those three prizes.

If the last digit of your ticket number coincides with the last digit of El Gordo, you have a reintegro, and you will be refunded the cost of the décimo (€20). There are 9,999 reintegro prizes.

Lastly, there are 1794 pedrea prizes (you win €100 per décimo).

Most common and luckiest El Gordo de Navidad numbers

Numbers 5 and 85 have been the most popular since the draws began, and the El Gordo winning numbers have also varied over the years, from 15640 in 1956 to 20297 in 1903.

A gas company worker, Vicente Villaverde, who lives across the street from the lottery office, told lottery officials that he bought lottery tickets ending in 13 for the past six years. The reason being is that he experienced so much bad luck in his life that his lucky number 13 simply had to bring him some good luck for a change and it did.

When it comes to the luckiest cities; Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville are Spain’s luckiest cities with the most winners. Cities yet to win El Gordo are Ávila, Ceuta, Melilla, Tarragona and Zamora.

The actual draw

The draw takes place at Teatro Real Theatre in Madrid on 22 December. It starts at 9am and lasts for a few hours. The draw finishes when all the prize balls have been drawn out of the drum and there are 1,807 of them!

Basically everyone in Spain watches the draw, either in the theatre or live on television.

What’s even more unusual from any other lottery draw is that fact that children from the San Ildefonso school pick the winning numbers out of two spherical vessels. The school selects a certain number of students and the lucky ones work in pairs singing out ticket numbers and presenting the big winning prize balls to a panel of judges.

The balls are drawn in a unique way befitting the unique lottery tradition and the numbers are sung by the pupils.

Originally, the school was a home for orphans and traditionally winners donated a portion of their winnings to the orphanage. The balls were originally only drawn by boys, with the first girl taking part in the big draw singalong in 1984.

The two spherical vessels, one containing balls embossed with the numbers found on the raffle tickets and the other featuring the associated prizes in euros.  For example, children may sing, "Ball number 20.456 gets €20,000!” This goes on and on until the €4-million ball is drawn making the numbered ball drawn alongside it El Gordo.

Checking the results

For those living in Spain and who bought a ticket or a share of a ticket, finding out whether or not you won is easy. If you win a really good prize, you’ll know. Either you see it live on your TV or someone you know plays the same number as you and will immediately call you.

Thankfully, by purchasing your El Gordo de Navidad tickets online makes finding out if you won so much easier.

A whole town won big

In 2011 the tiny Spanish village of Sodeto won big. The winners each claimed a share of €120 million, with people collecting sums ranging from €100,000 to €1 million each!

All but one of its 250 inhabitants, unfortunately, did not buy a lottery ticket. The unlucky loser was a Greek resident who lived on the edge of town and failed to buy a ticket because he did not realize just how big the prize fund was.

This was the first time in El Gordo’s 200 year history that one entire village had won the prize, but it is not uncommon for many people in the same location to all win at the same time, given lottery shops are often assigned the full complement of a given number.

Fortunately, Mitsotakis’s story has a happy ending. After the draw, a newly wealthy neighbour used his share of the prize money to purchase some land that Mitsotakis had been trying to sell, so he ended up with some cash after all.

Smaller winners play again on January 6

People winning very small amounts often use that money to buy another raffle ticket for the lottery draw that takes place on 6 January known as Lotería del Niño.

Buy your tickets for the El Gordo de Navidad Spanish Christmas Raffle right here at PlayUSALotteries and you will become a part of this truly enchanting game!

May Lady Luck be on your side this year!

Good luck - Bon Sort - Buena Suerte!

This post was written by
Jason L - who has written 3115 articles
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