By Humphrey Carter/Agencies

PALMA
WELL, this is it. Tomorrow (Monday) morning the whole country will come to a standstill for the annual draw of the Christmas El Gordo (The Fat One) lottery - the richest in the world.

For months, The Spanish have been stuffing El Gordo tickets into their pockets despite a global economic slowdown that has saddled Spain with Europe's highest unemployment rate.

The strong demand bucks the trend in other major European nations where cash-strapped consumers have dropped lottery tickets from holiday shopping lists, causing a noticeable slump in sales.

An estimated four in five Spaniards bought tickets for the lottery in 2007, spending on average 64 euros each for a total of 2.87 billion euros. The state lottery commission predicts they will spend roughly the same amount this year despite hard times.

This year winning the lottery really could change someone's life.
Good luck!

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