It's that time of the year when newspapers offer excrutiating articles about 'The Fat One' or 'El Gordo'... so here's mine (even if it won't go further than a lowly blog).
'The Fat One' sounds to me like the name of one of those bombs the American airforce tossed onto the Japanese sixty odd years ago, and in point of fact, 'El Gordo' is not the name of the Spanish lottery but is merely the slang name for the main prize, a massive nuclear bomb of a thing that has always gone (rather irritatingly) to some well-deserving people from another city or town than one's own. You'll see them on the telly on Monday squirting champagne, well cava anyway, at each other outside some scruffy little lottery shop, screeching with glee and generally looking very cheerful indeed. Fair do's.
When you buy (or are given) a ticket, it's usually a tenth - a decimo - which evidently gives you a tenth of whatever prize that number is due. The lowest prizes are those which end in the same number as the top prize or two, as sung out by the piping voices of the children at San Ildefonso on December 22nd (next Monday) for a couple of hours before lunch. There's not much escaping the veinte cinco meeel doscientos ochenta eee nuevey... dos meellonessss de Euros and so on which booms from every tv set, bar and tranny across the country. There's lots of prizes to be had from the endless five-figure lottery series and participations as they are tunefully bellowed out by the young students or re-printed in every Spanish daily the following morning.
The lotería nacional has been around since 1812 and government lotteries stretch back even further, to 1771, which is no doubt a fine way of making the govt a few extra spondooliks (they pay out some seventy percent of the collection) while keeping José Public in a good frame of mind. It certainly beats giving them cake. Every tenth ticket or better at least gets its money back (which comes in handy to buy the next and second main lottery of the year which is drawn just before Twelfth Night, the Niño Jesús) and some of the prizes are pretty damn good. Lemme see (I'm playing two decimos): the top number wins three million, or 300,000 euros a decimo - and even more if you have the right series and section!
There's a strange and rather dubious lottery running around with the English in one of our newspapers at the moment which claims that, since every tenth lottery wins a prize (i.e. - its money back) you can join a special consortium which buys ten tickets and therefore guarantees you a prize! Do people fall for these things? Do the Nigerians know about this? Never give a dummy an even break!
So, I hope you've bought a ticket and I hope you win a prize. Spend it wisely. I actually hope a bit more that I win a prize, but you already guessed that.