Around Christmas time, you will more than likely have noticed a large queue outside Doña Manolita every day. We suspect you may not know your lottery outlets by name yet, so for clarification Doña Manolita is the lottery vendor near Sol on Calle del Carmen. It’s renowned as the luckiest place to buy your ticket for La Lotería de Navidad! If you’re going to buy a Christmas Lottery ticket we strongly recommend that you withstand the queue and buy it from there.
Every year, starting around mid-November, thousands of madrileños queue up on Calle del Carmen to buy a ticket for a chance to win El Gordo (literally, the fat one), which is the largest single draw lottery prize in the world! The €200 tickets are available for individuals, but the true essence of the Lotería de Navidad is in the participation that arises from the sub-tickets. A company or group of people would choose to purchase a ticket, with each contributor paying €20 for a 10% stake in the winnings. You can buy your sub-tickets almost anywhere (a shop, a bar, your workplace or even a motor way service station) but before you do make sure you ask if it was originally bought from Doña Manolita . After all, a third of winning tickets have been traced back to that one lottery outlet.
The first ever Lotería de Navidad took place in 1812, when interestingly, it was set up as a way of increasing public funds without it effecting the contributors! The lottery has been running every year since 1812, surviving times of war, crisis and even through Franco’s era, where the numbers all ended with a 36 or 39 to commemorate the Civil War. It is now the second longest running lottery in the world and it’s broadcasted every year on the 22nd of December, on Radio Nacional de España.
Despite the number of years it’s been running, the popularity of this lottery hasn’t faltered; it continues to grow, with 98% of adults entering the draw in 2016! In 2017, there will be an enormous €2.38 billion in prizes, so it’s no wonder that the majority of madrileños take part. With any form of gambling, participants have their lucky rituals and the Lotería de Navidad is certainly no different. In fact, besides lucky charms, and other superstitions that individuals all over the world may have, the Lotería de Navidad has many stereotypical lucky traits that contributors share. For example, in Madrid, you may notice that many people enter the ticket shop with their right foot first and then ask if the lottery ticket can be picked out with their right hand. Others include passing your ticket across a pregnant woman’s stomach, or over the head of a bald man!
If you’re in Madrid over the Christmas period, head to Doña Manolita for a chance to win and above all, a chance to share the excitement that flows through Madrid at 11.57pm on the 22nd of December!
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