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22 diciembre - El Gordo

Today is the day of “The Fat One”: the biggest, oldest, most hyped lottery draw of its kind in the world, which takes place in Madrid every 22nd of December.

Whatever your views on playing the lottery – yet another tax on the poor, the foolish and the hopelessly optimistic, or a reasonable way to plan for the future – it is undeniably a huge part of Spanish culture and therefore interesting for us.

The key points are that it was originally set up by the ruling classes in the Cadiz region who needed to raise funds for the war-chest to stick it to Napoleon, but were wary of imposing yet more taxes on an already stretched population. So they decided to offer the hope of prizes in return for cash. Not an original format, but it took off in this corner of Europe even more sharply than elsewhere.

The prizes these days are eye-watering. The prize pot is in the region of 2.5 billion euros. This is split into different prizes, and if you do win then the chances are high that you will have to share your millions with a lot of other people, partly because people tend to buy tickets in groups and partly because you get pre-assigned numbers rather than getting to choose your own.

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