UK & World News

  • 23 December 2013, 3:37

Spain: Joy For £2bn El Gordo Lottery Winners

Spain came to a virtual standstill as the winning numbers of the country's most popular Christmas lottery, offering ?2.5bn (£2bn) in prize money, were announced.

The top prize - known as El Gordo, meaning the Fat One - gives lucky winners ?400,000 (£334,660) per ticket, while the second-best prize nets ?125,000 (£104,581).

Millions of ticket holders were either glued to a television set or packed inside Madrid's Teatro†Real opera house for the live draw in the hope that the schoolchildren singing the winning numbers would call out their ticket.

The top prize ticket number was revealed as 62246, and the second as 79712.

Among the audience was Jesus Lorente, who bought his second prize ticket at a gas station in Granadilla de Abona on the Canary Island resort of Tenerife.

Asked what he planned to do with the money, he said he would use it to clear his debts. "The ticket is stored in a safe place at home," he said.

Unlike lotteries that offer one large jackpot, El Gordo gives thousands of ticket holders a chance of scooping some prize money.

Tales of joy and celebration were widely broadcast on TV stations, providing Spain's struggling population a rare moment of joy after another year of a brutal financial crisis.

Before Spain's property-led economic boom imploded in 2008, ticket buyers often talked about spending their winnings on new cars, beach homes or fancy vacations. Now many Spaniards are just hoping to avoid having their homes or cars repossessed.

It comes just days after a Georgia woman claimed her half of the $636m (£389m) Mega Millions draw in the US.

The second winner has yet to step forward to claim their share of the second-largest jackpot in US history.

In March 2012, the largest jackpot in US history - $656m (£401m) - was split among three winning tickets.

The El Gordo†prize pot dwarfs the maximum†EuroMillions jackpot, which can grow to a maximum of £161.5m.†

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