America has gone Mega Millions crazy, with panic buying of lottery tickets and the attention of the world’s media. But the USA is not the only place to have massive jackpots or generous lotteries.
El Gordo and El Niño
If a Spanish friend asks whether you will be taking part in the ‘fat one’ or the ‘child’, they are hopefully referring to the Spanish state lottery. El Gordo and El Niño are the two biggest draws in the lottery, and take place just before Christmas and just after New Year respectively.
No other lottery quite matches these two draws for their combination of massive payouts, a two hundred year history and a wealth of curious traditions surrounding the draw. It is a national obsession, with a participation rate of 98% frequently quoted in the Spanish press (but a more realistic figure being around 75% of the population). In 2011, and despite (or, perhaps, because of) being in the grip of a financial crisis, Spaniards spent an average of €57 each on tickets.