Lotteries are perhaps as much a part of Spanish culture as the running of the bulls.

Several times a year, the National Lottery holds special draws which are known for the hefty prizes they offer. The biggest of these El Gordo Draws (which literally means "the fat one") are the Navidad, held shortly before Christmas; and El Niño (Baby Jesus), which celebrates the feast of the Epiphany on the first week of January.

Besides these two mega-sized draws, El Gordo is still considered a "big" betting event throughout the year. In fact, El Gordo is known as the richest lottery in the world.

EL Gordo started in 1812 and boasts of tens of thousands of cash prizes for any given draw. All prizes are tax-exempt and paid out in lump sum. With the exception of the Navidad draw, the odds of winning a cash prize in El Gordo are 1-in-3 (December draw odds are 1-in-6).

The Lottery game works like a regular sweepstakes draw. Tickets are individually numbered and sold in tenths or decimas, (the complete decima receives the full value of any prize won - so if you own just one ticket, you only get a tenth of the prize.) which is why it's common practice among the Spanish to pool money together to buy a decima then just split the winnings afterwards.

For the longest time, El Gordo tickets have been sold exclusively in Spain. However, with subscription services like OSA, overseas players who want a piece of the action can order Tickets well in advance of the scheduled El Gordo Draws.

For more information about El Gordo, please visit: