Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Spain's massive lottery awards billions

Big winners in Spain's annual lottery

    Just Watched

    Big winners in Spain's annual lottery

Big winners in Spain's annual lottery 01:36

Story highlights

  • Spain's annual Christmas lottery paid our $2.2 billion to thousands of winners
  • The biggest prize -- El Gordo -- was won by residents in Alcala de Henares
  • The lottery intake was $3.2 billion, but the government keeps 30%
  • Spaniards spent less on lottery tickets this year

In Spain's deep economic crisis, the lucky ones could hardly believe their good fortune on Saturday --- holding a $26 share of a winning lottery ticket pays out a return of $528,000.

The country's annual Christmas lottery pays out this year $2.2 billion to thousands of winners, but those holding the winning number for the top prize -- 76058 -- for El Gordo, or "the fat one," reaped the biggest rewards, according to Spain's state-run lottery.

The first prize paid $950 million overall, or 43 percent of the total prizes, and most of "El Gordo" was won by some residents of the historic university town of Alcala de Henares, just east of Madrid, the lottery administration said.

There, in a working class neighborhood with public housing and many immigrants, Spanish media reported that champagne bottles were popping at the lottery office that sold many of the winning tickets.

Spaniards typically buy a share of a ticket, among friends or family, at the local bar or workplace, so the joy was spread around.

Is praying for a lottery win frowned upon? Depends on who you ask

A man in Alcala de Henares bought 10 shares -- an amount known as a "full ticket," and now worth $5.2 million -- and had given them away other family members. One recipient, the father of a young child, said he would try to buy a decent home and a car.

Another winner was a cafe owner who said he'd still probably open for business on Monday, after going to collect his earnings at the bank, Spanish media reported.

The second biggest prize mostly went to residents in the town of Aranda de Duero, north of Madrid. Numerous towns across the nation also got a piece of the action, and some portions of the top El Gordo prize were sold in 15 Spanish provinces.

But Spain's recession and the unemployment rate that tops 25% clearly had an impact on the lottery intake this year.

Spaniards spent 8% less on lottery tickets this year than last, with the average Spaniard laying out only $68 for lottery ticket shares, down from $73 last year, the lottery administration said.

The biggest winner is the state, which keeps $976 million, or 30% of the entire lottery intake, which reached $3.2 billion this year. The remaining 70% was distributed for prizes.

This was the last year that Christmas lottery winnings over $3,300 will be tax free. Next year, anyone winning $3,300 or more will see their good fortune taxed at 20 percent, making the cash-strapped Spanish government even a bigger winner.

Clock ticks on unclaimed £64 million lottery ticket

      CNN Recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.