By Humphrey Carter
LAST minute hopefuls rushed to buy any remaining El Gordo lottery tickets yesterday ahead of today's biggest ever Spanish lottery draw being made with a record 2'000 million euros, £1.2 billion, being shared out by the “the fat one” Christmas draw. The draw, which as usual will be broadcast live on television and radio, will start at 9am and draw to a close some three-and-a-half hours later, taking slightly longer than usual because of the extra numbers and the extra money involved this year.
The prize money for El Gordo has been upped by a near 50 percent which means that each winning 20-euro ticket is worth 300'000 euros and a winning book of ten “decimos” tickets, three million euros, a million euros more than last year. The Fat One has landed in Majorca just five times, while the most frequent winning cities have been Madrid and Barcelona scooping the jackpot on 69 and 37 occasions respectively. However, there are still a number of cities, towns and regions which have yet to win anything on the El Gordo lottery - quite amazing considering at least 75 percent of the population normally buy at least one lottery ticket. This year, 83 percent of the country has had a flutter on the Fat One.

In fact, four out of every ten people have spent at least 40 euros on the Christmas lottery.
The number five is the most common winning final number, which also entitles ticket holders whose number ends in five to their 20 euros back per ticket. It has been picked on 30 occasions. Three and eight have both been drawn as the final winning number on 20 occasions while zero, seven, 19 and the number two have also appeared in more than ten different draws in the El Gordo's 194-year history. A recent survey carried out by Spain's lottery agency discovered that 83 percent of people, if they won the lottery, would use the money to clear their mortgage and debts. But, for many, winning the lottery remains a dream. Ninety-two percent of people questioned in the nation-wide survey said that they had never won a prize of any importance in their life. Well, today it could be you!


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