The El Niño lottery is a follow up from Spain’s biggest annual lottery –The Spanish Christmas Lottery (El Gordo de Navidad). Just like the Spanish Christmas Lottery, El Niño is known to be one of the richest lotteries in the world since starting back in 1941.
The name “El Niño” (meaning ‘The Child’) gets its inspiration from Christian tradition and refers to baby Jesus. The El Niño lottery can also be known as Sorteo Extraordinario del Niño, or Sorteo del Niño.
Although not as popular as the Spanish Christmas Lottery, El Niño is still known for its huge jackpot prizes and for being the second in importance in Spain, after the Spanish Christmas Lottery.
The El Niño draw was traditionally held on the 5th of January up until the year 2000. The draw date has since been changed to the 6th of January (an important religious feast in Spain, coinciding with the Epiphany, or the visitation of the Magi or Wise Men) and usually take’s place at Lottery Palace in Madrid, Spain.
Similar to the Spanish National Lottery, and to the El Gordo de Navidad, El Niño is played differently to regular jackpot lotteries.
There are 40 series with 100.000 numbers each. This means that for each serie 100,000 pre-set tickets are printed with 5 digit codes between 000000-99999.
Each ticket is usually divided into 10 shares. Individual shares of one ticket can be purchased by the players. These individual shares are called “decimos”, which means “the tenth part”.
Each decimo amounts to one-tenth of a full ticket, so if that particular 5 digit number wins a prize, the ticket holder will then get a tenth of the prize available for that particular ticket.
To purchase a full El Niño ticket (billete) means that the ticket holder will win 100% of the prize amount available for that ticket.
The amount distributed as prizes is 560,000,000 euros, which corresponds to 70% of the tickets issued. 37,812 prizes are distributed for each serie. The total amount of the prizes paid per serie is €14.000.000.
Altogether there are 14 small prize categories to be won, as well as 3 bigger top prize jackpots, the highest ranging from €200,000.00 to the lowest being €20.
The main El Niño prizes (per serie):
1 prize of €2,000,000
1 prize of €750,000
1 prize of €250,000
The rest of the prizes vary from €200 to €12,000.
Normally, people buy one or more “décimos” (the tenth part of a ticket ), while whole tickets (billete) are usually known to be bought between groups or syndicates, making them easier to afford and giving the players more chance of winning a jackpot prize.
Some of El Niño’s top prize tickets were sold in Alicante, Leon, Madrid, Murcia and Tenerife back in 2012. The south-western suburb of Alcorcon sold 200 winning tickets totalling at €40.000.000 in prize money.
Odds of winning El Niño’s top prize, is roughly calculated at 1:100,000 for the main jackpot prize and 1:3 chance of taking any other jackpot prize.
There are more than 37,000 winning combinations that exist for every El Niño ticket available.
As from the 1st January 2013 a tax retention of 20% is applied to all winnings exceeding €2,500. There is no retention for prizes up to €2,500, and if the prize amount is higher than the first €2,500 are exempt.