Spanish beach town hits jackpot with 'El Gordo' lottery

MADRID -- With wide smiles, elated lottery winners popped corks on bottles of sparkling wine Tuesday in the southern beach city of Roquetas de Mar, where tickets bearing the top prize number in Spain's Christmas lottery were sold.

See Full Article

The winning number -- 79140 -- appeared on 1,600 tickets in the lottery known as El Gordo (The Fat One), with each ticket holder winning 400,000 euros ($434,800).

The lottery has taken on special importance in recent years as Spain struggled through a real estate bubble and the European debt crisis. The annual event Dec. 22 unites the country as millions watch the hours-long TV program to find out if they are among the lucky ones.

El Gordo tickets are sold in many lottery sites around the country and shell out different winnings -- but this year the top tickets were sold entirely by one lottery agent. Lottery officials say that can happen because bettors don't pick their own numbers.

The mayor of Roquetas de Mar called the win great news for his city in the province of Almeria, which has an unemployment rate of 31 per cent -- much higher than Spain's national 21 per cent jobless rate. Smiling winners showed up at the lottery agency and cracked open the bubbly.

"I'm really happy and I congratulate all the winners," Mayor Gabriel Amat told the Voz de Almeria newspaper. "It's very important for the town, especially in the difficult times we've been facing."

Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763, during the reign of King Carlos III, but its objective gradually shifted toward filling state coffers. El Gordo itself dates from 1812.

Other lotteries have larger individual top prizes but El Gordo is ranked as the world's richest, handing out a total of 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) this year in millions of prizes.

The standard ticket costs 20 euros ($22). People traditionally chip in together and buy shares of several or many tickets among friends, families or workmates in one of the most popular Christmas customs in Spain. Queues form outside lottery stores weeks ahead of the draw.

The prize ticket numbers are sung out by pupils of Madrid's Saint Ildefonso School in a nationally televised event from the city's Teatro Real opera house.

Organizers said ticket sales totalled 2.5 billion euros this year, up 4.5 per cent from last year.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Bus carrying students on ski holiday crashes and burns, killing 16

    World News Toronto Sun
    ROME — A bus carrying Hungarian school students home from a skiing trip to France slammed into a highway barrier in northern Italy and caught fire, killing at least 16 people, police said Saturday. Thirty-nine people survived, though some were seriously injured. Source
  • Pro-white alt-right leader assaulted during Trump inauguration

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON - Richard Spencer, who emerged in 2016 as a leader of the pro-white "alt-right" movement, was assaulted three times during interviews after President Donald Trump's inauguration ceremonies. Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute, was confronted while walking away from the inauguration with a small documentary crew; another camera was rolling as a protester who concealed his face ran toward Spencer and punched him in the face. Source
  • Police enter Brazil prison in attempt to quell gang fighting

    World News CTV News
    NATAL, Brazil - Riot police are entering a prison in northeastern Brazil where 26 inmates were killed recently, in an attempt to separate rival gangs inside the complex. A helicopter flew overhead Saturday as an armoured vehicle and about 40 police forces including riot police entered the Alcacuz prison complex, which has been in control of the prisoners for several days. Source
  • Tornado rips through south Mississippi, killing four

    World News Toronto Sun
    HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Four people were killed and scores of homes were flattened early Saturday when a tornado hitting in the dark of night ripped through a city in southern Mississippi, officials said. The city of Hattiesburg said via its Twitter account that four people had died after the twister blew through the city and surrounding area. Source
  • Thousands descend on Washington for women's march

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A day after self-described anarchists created chaos, thousands of women are descending upon Washington for what is expected to be a more orderly show of force on the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency. Source
  • Thousands descend on D.C. for women's march

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Wearing pink, pointy-eared "pussyhats" to mock the new president, tens of thousands of women massed in the nation's capital and other cities around the globe Saturday for marches and demonstrations aimed at showing Donald Trump they won't be silent over the next four years. Source
  • Trump takes office, vows to stop 'American carnage'

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- As U.S. President Donald Trump wrapped up the ceremony of his inauguration and shifted to governing, he signaled he intends to move quickly to make a clean break from the Obama administration. Trump spent his first night in the White House and was slated to start his first full day in office at a national prayer service Saturday morning. Source
  • Nova Scotia Teachers Union, provincial government reach tentative agreement

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has reached a tentative agreement with the provincial government, but both sides are mum on the details for now. All the union will say is that it has suspended its work-to-rule job action, which will be "phased out" beginning Monday. Source
  • Turkish parliament backs plans to strengthen presidency

    World News CBC News
    The Turkish parliament has backed a plan to strengthen the powers of the presidency, paving the way for a referendum on the issue in spring which, if passed, could allow President Tayyip Erdogan to stay in office until 2029. Source
  • Rescue teams pull 2 bodies from Iran building rubble

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Rescuers found the bodies of two firefighters in the rubble of a commercial building that collapsed in Tehran after a blaze, leaving up to 30 dead, Iran's state TV reported Saturday. Footage showed rescuers carrying the body of one of the victims. Source