Introduction

The Spanish Christmas Lottery which is also known as Sorteo de Navidad or Lotería de Navidad, is a popular national lottery organised yearly since 1812. The Spanish Christmas Lottery results take place every December 22nd and it is one of the longest running and biggest lotteries in the world, known to have the largest overall prize fund of several billions.

How it works

The Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets have a different colour and image each year. Each ticket has a 5 digit number on it (tickets are similar to the ones of the regular National Lottery). Each 5 digit Spanish Christmas Lottery number (from 00,000 to 99,999) is issued 160 times. This means that for each number there are 160 tickets (“billete”), bearing 160 different “series” on them. Since a full ticket could be too expensive for some, each ticket is divided in 10 parts called “décimos”, and players can therefore either buy a full ticket or just one or more “tenth” in a bid to join the list of Spanish Christmas Lottery winners.

Please find a breakdown of the Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets and terms below:

Billete: An entire ticket of a 5-digit number, which consists of 10 décimos (tenths of a ticket).

Décimo : One tenth of a billete (full ticket). This is the ticket most commonly bought.

Serie : Each full ticket or billete is printed 160 times with different “serie” numbers.

One of the reasons why this lottery is so popular in Spain is because instead of paying just one big Spanish Christmas Lottery prize and a few other smaller prizes, it pays a considerable amount of smaller prizes. As you can see in the table here below, apart from the “El Gordo” (First Prize) and the other four biggest Spanish Christmas Lottery prize categories, there are 1,794 prizes called “La Pedrea”, which are worth €1,000 each, and many more small prizes.

The total prizes on offer in the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw amount to €2,24 billion, and for a single serie the prize structure for each full ticket is as follows:

Nº of Prizes

Prize Value

Prize Category

Total Prize Value

1

€4,000,000

First Prize - ‘El Gordo’

€4,000,000

1

€1,250,000

Second Prize

€1,250,000

1

€500,000

Third Prize

€500,000

2

€200,000

Fourth Prizes

€400,000

8

€60,000

Fifth Prizes

€480,000

1,794

€1,000

“La Pedrea” Prizes

€1,794,000

2

€20,000

For the two numbers before and after the First Prize

€40,000

2

€12,500

For the two numbers before and after the Second Prize

€25,000

2

€9,600

For the two numbers before and after the Third Prize

€19,200

99

€1,000

For the 99 numbers with the same first three digits of the First Prize

€99,000

99

€1,000

For the 99 numbers with the same first three digits of the Second Prize

€99,000

99

€1,000

For the 99 numbers with the same first three digits of the Third Prize

€99,000

198

€1,000

For the 99 numbers with the same first three digits of each of the Fourth Prizes

€198,000

999

€1,000

For the 999 numbers with the same two last digits as the First Prize

€999,000

999

€1,000

For the 999 numbers with the same two last digits as the Second Prize

€999,000

999

€1,000

For the 999 numbers with the same two last digits as the Third Prize

€999,000

9,999

€200

For the 9,999 numbers with the same last digit as the First Prize

€1,999,800

 

Total Prizes: 

 

15,304

 

Total per serie:

 

€14,000,000

 

Total for the 160 series:

 

€2,240,000,000


Although for 2013 and 2014 they remained the same, the exact quantity of Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets/series, and their prices, may vary each year.

Lucky Winners

The “El Gordo” prize for 2013 went to the number 62246. The lucky Spanish Christmas lottery winners purchased their tickets in the provinces of Gipuzkoa, Madrid, Valencia, Toledo, Palencia, Asturias, Jaén, Barcelona, Pontevedra, and Sevilla.

Lottery retailers tend to sell Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets for just a few numbers, meaning that when the top prizes are won, the winners are often from the same town or area. They also make reservations for some special numbers, according to their customer’s request, and often keep selling the same numbers year after year if they have won in the past.

More than just a lottery

The game is immersed by the nation as a tradition rather than just a lottery. The Spanish Christmas lottery draw date may be the 22nd of December each year, but the anticipation starts to build well before that as Spanish Christmas lottery tickets become available for players to buy from July onwards.

The preparation of the ceremony itself starts on the 21st, when the balls that will be used in the drawing of the Spanish Christmas lottery winning numbers are examined publicly. Upon authorization of the President of the board, any of the participants in the process can examine and touch the balls. Once the preparation process is finished, all doors to the lounge are blocked, except one access door which is locked, and the keys to the only access are distributed to three different people.

The doors of the lounge reopen at 8:00am on December 22nd, the day of the Spanish Christmas lottery results, in order to fit the audience in until the capacity is full. Half an hour later the board that will chair the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw makes its entrance, and then the balls make their first appearance of the day. Balls are shown to the public and are then mechanically transported into the two drums, one of them for the numbers and the other for the prizes. The drums are closed and, after a sign of the president, are turned simultaneously.

The children’s (of the Colegio de San Ildefonso’s) role starts here. Two of them pick up a ball in each of the drums and give them to two other children, who are in charge of singing the Spanish Christmas Lottery numbers and the prize shown on the balls, and to insert them into the wires on a special table that will collect all the balls which are drawn.

Each time the balls are inserted in the table, the drums turn again. The children and the table are replaced each time 200 balls containing the Spanish Christmas lottery numbers on them are drawn from each of the drums. This process continues until the drum that contains the balls with the prizes is empty.

The Spanish Christmas Lottery results and the list of prizes are made public 45 minutes after the end of the drawing. The list is prepared by an anonymous team of about forty people with the help of a computer program. The task of printing the official list corresponds to the “Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre”, which is the National Coinage and Stamp Factory. They distribute the list to the media and to the lottery operators and retailers.

History of the Spanish Christmas Lottery

The Christmas Lottery dates back to the time of the Courts of Cadiz, when the Minister of the Chamber of Indies thought of it as "a means to increase revenue from public funds without disrupting the taxpayers." The first draw took place on December 18th, 1812.

It was named 'Modern Lottery', to differentiate it from the 'Lottery Primitiva' started by the Marquis of Esquilache. The name 'Christmas Draw' did not arrive until December 23rd, 1892, and five years later that name was printed on the tickets.

For two centuries, children from the San Ildefonso orphanage have sung the winning numbers of the Spanish National Lottery, including the hugely popular Spanish Christmas Lottery draw. As orphans, they were expected to be less susceptible to cheats.

In the beginning the numbers to be drawn were written on small pieces of paper, however in 1913 a new system was started, with wooden balls and drums. This is the same system that is still in use today.

For the draw, two spherical drums are used. The big one contains 100,000 small wooden balls, each with a unique 5-digit Spanish Christmas Lottery number on it, from 00000 to 99999. The small drum contains 1,807 small wooden balls, each one with a prize in Euros on it:

  • 1 ball for the first prize, called el Gordo.
  • 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, called la Pedrea, which translated means "the little stones".

Other Information

The Spanish Christmas Lottery draw is always held in Madrid. In the past, the draws have taken place in the Lotería Nacional hall, while in 2010 and 2011 we saw them held in the Palacio Municipal de Congresos, and then in the Teatro Real for the 2012 and 2013 draws.

The lottery must not be confused with the weekly Spanish lottery game ‘El Gordo de la Primitiva’. Although people refer to the ‘Lotería de Navidad’ as ‘El Gordo’, that is making reference to the huge top prize on offer.

Current Jackpots