The world's biggest lottery took place in Spain on Tuesday with prizes worth a combined 2.24 billion euros ($2.43 billion) up for grabs.
Known as "El Gordo" ('The fat one" or "fatty"), Spain's annual Christmas lottery is the biggest and most famous lottery in the world. It is estimated that three quarters of Spain's 46 million population took part in the lottery, a tradition that dates back to 1812 and continued even throughout Spain's civil war.
Tickets bearing the largest slice of the prize - around 4 million euros - were sold in the southern beach city of Roquetas de Mar, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday morning. The winning number — 79140 — appeared on a total of 1,600 tickets, with each ticket holder winning 400,000 euros ($434,800), according to the news agency.
Spaniards line up to buy tickets for El Gordo each year but true to the Christmas spirit of sharing, no one person can win a jackpot of $2.4 billion. Instead, the lottery was designed to give as many people as possible a Christmas bonus with family and friends often sharing tickets.
"The biggest winning ticket of the "el Gordo" Spanish Christmas is usually worth about 3 million euros in total, but what makes the Spanish Christmas lottery the biggest in the world, is that there are many winning numbers with prizes of smaller amounts," according to travel website Barcelona Yellow.
"The El Gordo lottery pays out more lottery prizes than any other lottery draw in the world, which is why the Spanish Christmas lottery is the biggest lottery payout in the world. Almost everyone in Spain buys one or more tickets for "El Gordo" Spanish Christmas lottery with an average cost of 70 euros per person," the website added.
The draw took place in Madrid's Royal Opera House. According to Lottoland, a U.K. lottery site enabling Brits to bet on the El Gordo draw, the odds on winning are 1 in 6.
"With unmatched 1 in 100,000 odds of winning a £2.8 million jackpot with each ticket bought, it is no wonder why the Spanish Christmas Lottery is such a phenomenon. In addition to this there are 14,304 more prizes available."