You don't have to be Spanish to play — tickets were available online for about $40 — but the deadline for purchasing tickets everywhere has now passed. Many people buy "participation" tickets at a fraction of the cost, worth part of the prize.
Spain is obsessed with El Gordo, forming long lines for tickets. Villagers and other groups often buy the same number, casting their lot together. In 2011, residents of the little town of Sodeto all bought in on magical 58268 and walked away with winnings totaling more than $100 million.
Tourists and journalists who have visited Sodeto since its most merry Christmas say it is little changed. Locals bought tractors, not sports cars. Still, everyone in the village of 250 was instantly rich.
Well, not everyone. Greek filmmaker Costis Mitsotakis was living in a barn he was renovating and somehow was missed when townspeople were circulating tickets. Mitsotakis shrugs off questions about disappointment, saying he is happy. His now-wealthy neighbors believe him.
"His world is the images and the movies and the documentaries and for him that makes him rich," villager Sandra Garcia del Pozo told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "And he's got a great story now. .... And I think that will be his lottery, and it will be much better than ours."