El Gordo: $1.7 Billion in Cash Prizes
I was watching CNN reports this morning. That pansy-ass Powerball lottery. What a joke. $300+ million? Bah. Every year Spain has this MASSIVE holiday lottery called "El Gordo" or the Fat One. It's huge. How huge? This year the totals were up near $1.7 Billion in prize money. YEP. That's with a B. It's amazing if you think there's only 40 million people in this country, yet they have this insanely sized lottery. I'll write it again: $1,700,000,000 in prize money!
Here's the thing though - it doesn't all go to one person like our "winner-takes-all" mindset in the U.S. Here's how it works. There are only 100,000 numbers in the lottery(!!), and each of these numbers is is divided up into a hundred and sold as "tenths". Each "tenth" costs $20. It seems expensive, but it's not because of how much money is given away.
The way it works is there's this HUGE (!!!) lottery ball where all the numbers are stored (from 000001-999999) are twirled around and dropped out. There's another ball where all the prizes are kept. Then they pop out in pairs: 1 prize, 1 number. Then everyone who has that number wins the percentage of the prize that they have the ticket for. For example, if the prize that came out is $2000, then each "tenth" of a ticket is worth $200. Ana and I spent $60 on tickets this year, but won over $200 this way. A LARGE number of people win money every year. Also there's a bunch of other ways to "win" including having the same last number on your ticket as the winning number (thus 1 in 10 tickets gets refunded), and other ways. 36,000+ winners every year.
This site and this site has details of this year's draw. The #1 ticket was worth $2 million, so that means that everyone who had a "tenth" won $200,000!!! Yeah, baby! WHOLE Neighborhoods win when El Gordo hits because the number is usually only sold in your local lottery shop. About 2,000 (!!!) people won the top prize this year all over the country. And it's all TAX FREE. Every year at Christmas there's all these shots on TV of people partying in the streets because they and a bunch of their neighbors all won serious cash. Not enough cash to stop working for a living, but enough to make things pretty nice this holiday.
Personally, I think this is much, much better than some ridiculously improbable small chance in a zillion where one person walks away with more money than they can spend in a lifetime and the state takes half. What do you think?
Later... I've been corrected a bit in my comments (thanks Jacobo!). Normally, they draw 100,000 numbers, but because of size constraints of the big ball, for El Gordo, the numbers only go up to 66,000!! Rocking! That means you have 1/3 of chance better than I thought! It's a pretty cool system if you ask me!