El Gordo de Navidad (also referred to simply as El Gordo) is the biggest lottery in the world as far as the total amount of prize money offered in a single game is concerned. The El Gordo de Navidad lottery draw takes place in Spain just once a year (on 22 December), and the name El Gordo is usually translated as ‘The Fat One’ because of the huge amount of cash on offer – a total of over €2 billion! Although the El Gordo de Navidad (The Fat One of Christmas) draw tends to get the most headlines, there is also a more frequent El Gordo game that takes place every week in Spain, and you can find out more about that on our El Gordo de la Primitiva page.
El Gordo de Navidad Christmas lottery has the largest prize fund in the world. 70% of the proceeds from ticket sales are dedicated to the Christmas lottery prize fund, which for the 2013 draw is a staggering €2,240,000,000.
Playing El Gordo de Navidad
El Gordo de Navidad has a slightly different format to most other draw-based games because it issues a fixed number of pre-numbered tickets. Each ticket, which is also referred to as a billette, is divided into ten sections or décimos. Players can buy as few as one décimo and if the billette which it belongs to wins then they would win one tenth of the ticket prize. Of course, players can also buy more décimos, and buying all ten décimos from a given billette would entitle them to the full amount of any prize that is won by that billette. If all of that sounds a little confusing then don’t worry – simply think of El Gordo de Navidad as a supersized raffle game that offers over €2 billion in cash prizes and you’ll understand exactly how it works.
Each billette carries a five-digit number, and when the draw takes place thousands of wooden balls – each bearing a different five-digit number – are drawn to determine the winning tickets. The draw itself takes several hours and so it has become a major event in Spain, so much so that it is televised live across the nation in its entirety.
Winning any prize in the El Gordo de Navidad game is something to celebrate, but all participants dream of winning El Gordo itself, which is the biggest prize available. The size of the prizes that are won in this game seem to increase year on year, so players can almost certainly expect to win at least four figures from a winning billette, and the value of the top prizes are generally worth seven figures, which translates to a six-figure win for anyone who owns even one décimo from the winning billette.
Millions of Prize Winners
Because most players participate in El Gordo de Navidad by purchasing décimos rather than complete billettes, the game creates millions of prize winners each and every year. That, coupled with the fact that the total value of prizes is measured in the billions, makes El Gordo de Navidad the biggest lottery in the world, bar none.