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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Spain holds huge Christmas lottery with virus restrictions

Children from Madrid’s San Ildefonso school have begun calling out prize-winning numbers in Spain’s bumper Christmas lottery known as “EL Gordo” (the fat one), which is being held under tight conditions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The lottery will shell out 400,000 euros ($489,000) or some 325,000 euros after tax, to holders of 20-euro tickets bearing the top-prize number.

The incredibly popular lottery dishes out a total of 2.4 billion euros in prizes this year, much of it in small prizes.

Other lotteries have bigger individual top prizes but Spain’s Christmas lottery, staged each year on Dec. 22, is ranked as the world’s richest for the total prize money involved.

Televised nationally from the city’s Teatro Real opera house, the lottery was held without an audience this year. Organizers and participants on the theater’s stage donned masks and took PCR tests beforehand. The children were allowed to remove the masks briefly as they sang out the numbers and prizes.

Families, friends and co-workers traditionally buy the 20-euro tickets, or “decimos, (tenths),” together as part of a winter holiday tradition. They then wait in hope that fortune may shine on them.

Normally, jubilant street and bar scenes follow of winners celebrating with uncorked bottles of sparkling wine, but this year authorities have urged much caution because of the virus.

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