El Gordo fever: Spain enthralled by annual Christmas lottery

El Gordo fever: Spain enthralled by annual Christmas lottery
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, left, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Source: Alvaro Barrientos)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Those holding ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's famous Christmas lottery.

The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. The top prize for a winning ticket was 400,000 euros ($455,000), but there were many smaller prizes.

"Here the people are celebrating a lot, it's the first time that the top prize for the Christmas lottery has fallen here," Luis Soriano, owner of a bar that sold some top-prize tickets in the eastern town of Ontinyent, told the Europa Press news agency.

Other lotteries have bigger individual top prizes but El Gordo, held each Dec. 22, is ranked as the world's biggest in terms of total prize money.

Multiple people picked the top winning number across Spain, spreading the 680 million euros ($773 million) distributed for it to 46 of the country's 50 provinces.

A man dressed as a lottery ball waits to enter Madrid's Teatro Real opera house for the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White)
A man dressed as a lottery ball waits to enter Madrid's Teatro Real opera house for the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school call out the winning lottery ticket number 03347 at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White)
Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school call out the winning lottery ticket number 03347 at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school call out the winning lottery ticket number 03347 at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White)
Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school call out the winning lottery ticket number 03347 at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One, dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
Asuncion Daguerre, left, a owner of lottery office, celebrates beside Edurne Gomez and Tomas Ariztia with sparkling wine after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Asuncion Daguerre, left, a owner of lottery office, celebrates beside Edurne Gomez and Tomas Ariztia with sparkling wine after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Source: Alvaro Barrientos)
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, left, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, left, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Source: Alvaro Barrientos)
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, left, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, left, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Source: Alvaro Barrientos)
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, center, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Tomas Arizta, a owner of a lottery office, celebrates with sparkling wine beside Asuncion Daguerrea and Edurne Gomez, center, after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Source: Alvaro Barrientos)
Asuncion Daguerre, left, a owner of lottery office, celebrates beside Edurne Gomez and Tomas Ariztia as show the winner number after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Asuncion Daguerre, left, a owner of lottery office, celebrates beside Edurne Gomez and Tomas Ariztia as show the winner number after selling the first prize Christmas lottery ticket El Gordo, or The Fat One, with the number 03347, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Holders of the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize-money this year.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Source: Alvaro Barrientos)
Lottery balls fall into a chamber before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White)
Lottery balls fall into a chamber before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
A worker supervises the lottery balls to be drawn at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White)
A worker supervises the lottery balls to be drawn at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
A woman wearing a costume of lottery tickets arrives before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White)
A woman wearing a costume of lottery tickets arrives before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
A man dressed as a clown sits in the audience before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White)
A man dressed as a clown sits in the audience before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
A man dressed as a lottery ball waits to enter Madrid's Teatro Real opera house for the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White)
A man dressed as a lottery ball waits to enter Madrid's Teatro Real opera house for the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
A girl from Madrid's San Ildefonso school cries after picking out one of lottery winners at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White)
A girl from Madrid's San Ildefonso school cries after picking out one of lottery winners at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
A man wearing a suit jacket made of lottery tickets arrives before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White)
A man wearing a suit jacket made of lottery tickets arrives before the draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year.(AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)
People react in from of a TV camera while waiting to enter Madrid's Teatro Real opera house for the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White)
People react in from of a TV camera while waiting to enter Madrid's Teatro Real opera house for the Spanish Christmas Lottery draw in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Those holding the ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery. The lottery, known as El Gordo, or "The Fat One," dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. (AP Photo/Paul White) (Source: Paul White)

"Where are those who said we were jinxed, after we have brought so much good luck?" said Jose Gomez, the manager of a lottery office in Cuenca, which also sold tickets for the biggest prize.

Individuals or groups of friends or colleagues buy the El Gordo lottery tickets, which cost 20 euros ($23) each, months in advance.

Following the lottery draw has become a winter holiday tradition in Spain, with people glued to television sets, radios or the internet, where newspaper websites give a running commentary.

Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school called out the lottery prizes Saturday on a nationally televised draw at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house. The tiny wooden balls corresponding to the top prize rolled down chutes from two huge round cages and were called out by young girls three hours into the gala.

The focus then shifted to jubilant images of the winners, who were popping open bottles of cava and celebrating in lottery offices, bars or in the street.

Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763, during the reign of King Carlos III. Its objective later became to shore up state coffers.