El Gordo de Navidad has become one of the most mythical draws in the world since beginning more than 200 years ago. The first draw took place over the Christmas period in 1812, and it still follows the same raffle method today with printed tickets of five-digit numbers. Priced back then at 40 reales per ticket with a prize of 8,000 pesetas, it’s €200 per billete nowadays with a jackpot prize of €4 million.
The draw was initially called El Gordo de Navidad when it belonged to the Spanish National Lottery, but in 1892, around seventy years after the first draw, the name of Loteria de Navidad (also El Gordo) was officially established. In 1897, tickets with the Loteria de Navidad name were first printed.
It should be noted that during the Spanish Civil War in 1938, the Christmas raffle continued to be held despite the country being divided at that time. The Christmas raffle was of great importance in Spain back then, with the income generated accounting for 3% of the State’s income. Both the Barcelona and Burgos camps wanted to hold El Gordo draws of their own.
In 2002, the prizes for El Gordo started to be counted in euros with the introduction of the new currency. Then in 2004, the draw established a new record with the quickest El Gordo winning numbers in history, shown in just 13 minutes from start to end.`
There were only 85,000 numbers up until 2010, generating 195 series in 2009 and 2010. The numbers increased to 100,000 in 2011 due to the increasing demand for tickets, which saw a raise in profits and the money available in the prize fund.
Lots of data has been produced over the years for those who like to refer to statistics such as the most common and luckiest numbers. The numbers 5 and 85 have been the most popular since the draws began, and the El Gordo winning numbers have also varied over the years, from 15640 in 1956 to 20297 in 1903. In addition, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville are Spain’s luckiest cities with the most winners, and the cites yet to win El Gordo are Ávila, Ceuta, Melilla, Tarragona and Zamora.