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The top prize in Spain's 'El Gordo' Christmas lottery goes to the number 88008

Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school sing out the numbers from one of the main prizes from awarded lottery balls in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.
Paul White
/
AP
Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school sing out the numbers from one of the main prizes from awarded lottery balls in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.

Lucky holders of 20-euro tickets with the number 88008 will be celebrating Friday. They have each won 400,000 euros ($440,000), or some 325,000 euros after tax, in the top prize of Spain's huge Christmas lottery.

People across the country tuned into the television, radio and internet from early morning as children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school begin singing out the prize-winning numbers in the lottery known as "EL Gordo" (the fat one).

The immensely popular lottery will distribute a total of 2.6 billion euros in prizes this year, much of it in small winnings. Street and bar celebrations normally break out, with winners uncorking bottles of sparkling wine and singing and dancing.

The event is televised nationally from Madrid's Teatro Real opera house.

Purchasing and sharing tickets, known in Spanish as "décimos" (tenths) in the run-up to Christmas is a major tradition among families, friends, co-workers and in bars and sports and social clubs.

A Christmas lottery seller looks for customers in a crowded street in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul White)
Paul White / AP
/
AP
A Christmas lottery seller looks for customers in a crowded street in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul White)

The winning numbers were called out by children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school. The children picked up balls showing ticket numbers and their corresponding prizes from two giant rolling drums. They sang out both figures with a rhythmic cadence that is known to everyone in Spain.

In the weeks beforehand, queues formed outside lottery offices, especially those which had sold prize-winning tickets in the past.

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

Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763 during the reign of King Carlos III. Its objective later became to shore up state coffers. It also helps several charities.

The Dec. 22 lottery began in 1812. Since the beginning, the San Ildefonso college children have been singing the prizes.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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