El Gordo, A Lottery Christmas Cracker for Tenerife

Thu, September 29th, 2011 - By Colin

Sixpence hidden deep in my Christmas pud always made the festive season for me but Tenerife has raised my expectations, this year I want a million Euro serving from El Gordo, Spain’s Christmas lottery.

I’m not alone in my craving, it may have been a scorching July day in Los Cristianos but I spotted the first poster go up to announce that the record breaking lottery tickets were on sale. Maybe 20 euros sounds a bit steep for a lottery ticket but El Gordo isn’t called the fat one for nothing. Already the 2011 pot looks certain to exceed the 2,320 million total and with 70 per cent of the take paid out, at least 13,334 winners will be jumping for joy.

Don’t worry if you are just on holiday or passing through, you don’t have to be Spanish or even a resident to buy a ticket. Everyone gets El Gordo fever. They are issued in a multitude of series and you need the winning number from the correct series to win. A complete ticket costs 200 euros but normally people invest 20 euros in a tenth or decimo to scoop 10 % of the winning number. Far from frowned on, El Gordo draws communities together. Many clubs, societies and small villages get together as a consortium to chance their luck and you will see many bars proudly displaying their entry on the wall.

The big day is 22 December. The elaborate draw is broadcast live from Madrid. Bars from Puerto de la Cruz to Los Gigantes and all points in between will be full as Tenerife hopes to outdo the mainland. Last year a Garachico consortium shared three million euros, the sound of popping cava corks must have been deafening. The following day’s news gets relegated inside a wrap around cover on the daily papers as the full list of drawn numbers are printed and pored over.

Tacky Saturday night lottery shows on the BBC pale against the theatrical draw from the National Lottery Hall in Spain’s capital. The night before, two golden cages are loaded up with wooden balls, one batch for the ticket number and one for the prize it wins. The hall is sealed with just three people, claveros, holding special keys to be used at 8am on the draw day. Tradition dictates that school children from San Ildefonso school sing out the numbers as a Gregorian Chant. Three hours later you will know if anyone in your vicinity has won, they won’t be shy about it. I will have a go again this year but just in case luck isn’t with me I will keep a euro-stuffed Christmas pudding in my cupboard

Posted : Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 6:12 pm
Category : about tenerife
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