A man buys a Christmas lottery ticket from a street seller in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. Spain's bumper Christmas lottery draw known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, will be held on Dec. 22. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Spain dishes out $2.43 billion in bumper Christmas lottery

December 22, 2019 - 3:16 am

MADRID (AP) — Spaniards are gripped to their television sets, radios and mobile phones, hoping to strike it rich as the nation holds its bumper Christmas lottery.

The incredibly popular lottery, known as El Gordo (The Fat One), will dish out 2.24 billion euros ($2.43 billion) in prizes this year.

The top prize per winning ticket is 400,000 euros ($436,000) but there are many smaller prizes too.

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

Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school call out the prizes on a nationally televised drawing that begins around 9:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house.

Families, friends and co-workers buy tickets together as part of a winter holiday tradition.

The lottery is run by the state and supports several charity efforts.

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