World's richest lottery to shower Spaniards with prizes

21st December 2011, Comments 1 comment

Millions of crisis-hit Spaniards are snatching up tickets for the world's richest lottery draw Thursday, which will shower winners with a record 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in prizes.

Undeterred by a 21.5-percent jobless rate and the prospect of recession, four out of every five Spaniards are expected to spend money on a ticket to a lottery known as "El Gordo", or the "Fat One".

Long queues snaked through the streets as people took a chance to dream of an escape from the economic crisis, each person buying an average of more than 60 euros' worth of tickets.

In Madrid's main artery, the Gran Via, many waited for tickets at a small kiosk.

"I am spending more than last year, 100 euros, and I am sharing the tickets with my friends and family," said a 48-year-old office worker, Victoria.

"Some of them are having a very tough time financially and I want us to win," she said.

A tradition that dates back nearly two centuries, "El Gordo" is an engrained Christmas ritual.

Family, friends and colleagues can play the same number and share the gains if they are lucky on December 22, when pupils from former Madrid orphanage San Ildefenso sing out the numbers on national television.

At Madrid's Dona Manolita lottery ticket shop, which is famed for having sold the winning number several times, superstitious players are prepared to wait for hours for a ticket.

"And they say Spain is in a crisis," a passer-by could be heard muttering as he struggled to get past the huge queue.

Spaniards' attachment to "El Gordo" allows the national lottery to rake in a fortune each year, of which 70 percent is shared out in prizes.

It makes the draw one of the world's most generous, said Juan Antonio Gallardo, sales director of the national lottery.

The jackpot has grown to 400,000 euros from 300,000 euros last year.

With lottery ticket sales expected to amount to 3.6 billion euros, up from 2.7 billion euros last year, the total prize money to be shared out is expected to be 2.52 billion euros, the lottery says.

"The Christmas lottery is written into Spaniards' DNA. No other lottery in the world sells so much," Gallardo said.

Spaniards are paring back Christmas spending as they face a bleak economic outlook in 2012, with incoming conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy promising 16.5 billion euros in budget cuts.

"I am spending much less than last year. I am looking for practical gifts," said 52-year-old Maria Jose Perez, with a shopping bag stuffed with pyjamas and sports shoes for her 16-year-old daughter.

According to Spain's federation of independent consumers and users, Spanish households will spend an average 560 euros on Christmas -- 114 euros less than last year.

"Consumption is fragile, frugal and tired," said a report by the Spanish business school ESADE, which predicted a 40-percent decline in Christmas spending.

"But we will always keep some room for the little pleasures," said the report's author, Gerard Costa.

"And we won't forget traditions like the lottery."

Spain's outgoing Socialist government had planned to sell a 30-percent stake in the lucrative lottery to rake in up to 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion) for the state's depleted coffers.

But the government abandoned the sale in September, blaming plunging markets that would have slashed the sale price.

The national lottery posted a net profit of 2.99 billion euros in 2009, up 3.5 percent from the year before despite an economic crisis.

Spain traces its fascination with the lottery back to the creation of the royal lottery in 1763, which used profits for social causes such as hospitals. The national lottery was approved in 1811 and held its first draw the following year.


© 2011 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • rafalete posted:

    on 22nd December 2011, 00:13:37 - Reply

    Spaniards es un sitio web sectario, lleno de amiguismos y frikismo. La web consta de un único moderador (a pesar de que él intente hacer creer que la web es controlada por una administración plural), Eneko Alonso; un “hombre” que hace gala de su total parcialidad a la hora de poner orden el foro. Si no eres del agrado de la Cosa Nostra Spaniarda, estás acabado, acabas baneado y desterrado.
    Mucha información del foro está totalmente desfasada, si intentas pedir ayuda rápidamente te tirarán un montón de links con temas del 2006 y te dirán que la próxima vez busques antes de abrir un hilo. Este nunca fue mi caso ya que nunca necesité de sus “preciados” consejos. Al mismo tiempo, no hay mucha información sobre emigración que resulte útil; quizás encuentres algo relacionado con tu consulta, pero poca cosa. Lo más que leerás serán un par de comentarios antes de que veas como se destroza el hilo con alguna pelea absurda. Sí, hay verdaderos psicópatas telemáticos que se dedican a perseguir por los hilos a otros usuarios; actúan con el beneplácito de mister Eneko Alonso. Incluso hay usuarios de países latinoamericanos que están todo el día hablando de las bondades de sus países de origen y atacando a los que orgullosamente vivimos en USA, todo un sin sentido. La censura existe en www.spaniards.es, hay herramientas para marcar comentarios como inapropiados, incluso el moderador puede borrarlos, pero queda claro de que calaña es el susodicho moderador, ejemplo; http://www.spaniards.es/comment/1346144 Ejemplos miles, un foro lleno de insultos y todo tipo de descalificaciones, no te será difícil encontrarlos.....
    Definitivamente, si eres una persona a la que le gusta hacer gala de la libertad de expresión que atesoras, de tu cordura, de tu conocimiento, Spaniards no es tu sitio. Spaniards está controlado por un moderador que actúa como un niño pequeño, sin imparcialidad, con amiguismos; es una web donde vas a perder el tiempo. Un consejo, no visites spaniards, siempre puedes hacerlo pero desistirás y acabarás dándome la razón. Muchísimos puntos me dejo en el tintero. Se podría escribir un libro contando el surrealismo que inunda esta web. Podrás encontrar mas opiniones de otros usuarios haciendo esta búsqueda en google “spaniards.es opiniones”, sin comillas.
    Algún día los españoles expatriados podremos disfrutar de un punto de encuentro cordial, ameno, familiar, plural, inteligente, solidario como lo son muchísimos otros foros bien administrados sin ridículas concesiones amiguistas y demás malos rollos. Hasta entonces, seguiremos esperando, saludos a todos.