Today is the one that many Spaniards look forward to because the Christmas lottery draw is taking place at the Teatro Real in Madrid this morning. It is said that 75.3% of Spaniards take part, each spending an average of 65 euros on tickets. Even that sum is down though because in 2008 the average spend was 133 euros.
What makes this lottery special is of course the prize pot which amounts to 2,240 million euros and the number of prizes which is 24 million. Even still, the chances of winning a big prize are slim – 1 in 100,000 and there is only a 9% chance of even getting your money back.
There are two large drums, one contains the 100,000 numbered balls and the other, the 1,807 different types of prizes. The balls are made of boxwood, each precisely 3gms in weight and 18.8mm in diameter with numbers laser engraved upon them. First the ball for the number is drawn and then the prize. Children from San Ildefonso boarding school in Madrid will sing out the numbers. It is all grand theatre as people watch and wait for the big prizes to be drawn.
The state is of course the big winner and this year even more so because in addition to the normal cut, every win over 2,500 euros will be subject to 20% tax. So, a win of 400,000 euros in 2012 will only realise 320,000 euros this year. Still, there are many who would settle for a fraction of that amount.
Am I in with a chance to win? No is the answer because I have not bought a ticket for this year.
We did buy National Lottery tickets each week in Britain at £1 a piece and hardly won a thing and we bought tickets for El Gordo on two occasions from our Spanish teacher. She was selling them on behalf of an association which charged 3 euros over the 20 euro face value of a decimo (one tenth of a full ticket). The first time I got 20 euros back and so lost 3 euros to the cause. The second time I got nothing. To be honest, I have enough vices to keep me happy without adding gambling to the pot.