How to Play El Gordo Lottery – Easy Steps for Beginners

The biggest lottery in the world! That’s what people usually think of when they hear ‘El Gordo’ and they’re not wrong. This is after all what happens once a year when the Christmas El Gordo – also called El Gordo de Navidad – takes place.

But do be careful! There are actually multiple Spanish lotteries carrying the ‘El Gordo’ label. Have you heard about the El Gordo de Verano? What about El Gordo de Primitiva? You need to know the details about each one. That way, you can buy the right tickets and have the right strategy to win big.

We’ll summarize details about all these El Gordo lotteries, so you have a simple guideline to all these highly popular Spanish games.

What You Should Know About El Gordo

Spain elgordo navidad

Who is Behind El Gordo?

These games are popular lotteries hosted by the Spanish lottery authority, called Loterías y Apuestas del Estado. The weekly El Gordo started in 1993 and the full name is El Gordo de la Primitiva, not to be confused with the other popular Spanish game of La Primitiva.

The Meaning of the Name

‘El Gordo’ translates to ‘the fat one’. Although this is the name associated with these lotteries, do take care not to get confused with Spanish locals when talking about European lotteries. Chances are that all big prizes of most lotteries are often referred to as ‘El Gordo’.

Also, the phrase is almost synonymous with the country’s Christmas draw – El Gordo de Navidad – which is much bigger than the regular weekly draws. (See more about all the draws and lotteries below)

Know Which Game You Want to Play

Don’t get confused!

The games related to the ‘El Gordo’ brand of lotteries form quite a list of options. You first need to pick which of them you want to purchase a ticket for. Do you feel lucky on a certain day of the year, that you’ll only play around Christmas? Or will you play at random or even every week?

Your list of options are:

  • Christmas El Gordo in December of each year, also called El Gordo de Navidad
  • Summer El Gordo, also called the Spain el Gordo de Verano
  • Sunday draws of El Gordo de Primitiva

Below you’ll find descriptions for both the weekly draws and the biggest lottery in the world, namely the El Gordo de Navidad – the Christmas lottery.

El Gordo de Primitiva: the Regular El Gordo Draws

You can take part in El Gordo on a regular basis, making it part of your weekly or monthly schedule of playing. This you can do by playing the El Gordo lottery on Sundays throughout the year.

Regular El Gordo Draws

Source: WinTrillions

Special Draws: Summer and Christmas El Gordo

Also carrying the ‘El Gordo’ label you’ll find two other exciting lotteries that only take place once a year:

  • Spain el Gordo de Navidad: This one takes place during the festive season each year, with the draw just before Christmas. Note that this is the biggest lottery in the world.
  • Spain El Gordo de Verano: The El Gordo de Verano lottery takes place in the summer, so look out for this at the start of July each year. Its purpose is to celebrate the start of the summer holiday season. Although it has a smaller prize offering than some international lotteries, it’s still an exciting game and ideal to keep your year’s lottery playing interesting.

Game Setup and Costs

Each of the El Gordo lotteries are unique, so perhaps one seems more attractive to you than another? This table shares the basic information to help you understand them and decide what to try first.

Game Description Number Range Costs
El Gordo de Primitiva Similar to many other popular international lotteries, you’ll pick a set of numbers, in this case six numbers in total.

During a weekly draw, a set of numbers is drawn and players who have the six correct numbers will win the jackpot.

Smaller prizes are given to players who only get a few numbers correct.

Two number sets:

  • Pick five numbers between 1 and 54
  • Pick one number between 0 and 9 (This is called the El Clave number)
Christmas El Gordo This is a ticket based system and resembles a raffle.

During the special draw, ticket numbers are drawn from one cage and a prize from another. The drawn numbers can also represent partial ticket numbers.

Prizes range from a large jackpot to winning your ticket money back.

Tickets are numbered between 00000 and 99999, which provides 100,000 tickets.

To expand the number of tickets available for purchase, tickets are also part of ‘series’.

The number of series the organizers make available do differ, but in recent years it’s been between 160 and 180.

Everyone who has the right ticket number, no matter the series number, will win the corresponding prize.


Players can purchase a fraction of a ticket at €20 a sub-ticket, also called a decimo.

If you own only a part of a ticket, you’ll only be able to claim a percentage of the prize associated with that ticket.

Summer El Gordo Similar to raffles, this lottery also uses a numbered ticket system.

Main prizes are awarded for tickets carrying the correct 5-digit numbers.

Smaller prizes can be yours even if just one, two or three digits match the main-prize number sequences.

Tickets are numbered 00000 to 99999, so you have 100,000 numbers to pick from.

Players purchase a ticket or a tenth of a ticket. Prize money is paid out according to how much of a winning ticket you own.


El Gordo Odds

Weekly Draws of El Gordo de Primitiva

Prize Tier Winning Combination Odds of Winning
Jackpot 5 main numbers + El Clave 1:31,625,100
2 5 main numbers 1:3,513,900
3 4 main numbers + El Clave 1:129,082
4 4 main numbers 1:14,342
5 3 main numbers + El Clave 1:2,689
6 3 main numbers 1:299
7 2 main numbers + El Clave 1:172
8 2 main numbers 1:19
9 0 main numbers + El Clave 1:10

Christmas El Gordo Odds

Looking at the odds of winning the Christmas El Gordo, it’s clear that it’s one of the easier lotteries to win a prize in. Much easier than when playing EuroMillions for example. Of course, the prizes are smaller, but with so many people getting a chance to win, it’s worth entering.

The table below showcases the odds of getting a prize. It will also provide you with more insight into how the ticket system is applied in assigning prizes.

Category Odds
Jackpot (El Gordo) 1:100,000
2nd prize 1:100,000
3rd prize 1:100,000
4th prize 1:50,000
5th prize 1:12,500
Tickets numbered one below or above jackpot 1:50,000
Tickets with numbers one below or above the 2nd prize 1:50,000
Tickets with numbers one below and above the 3rd prize 1:50,000
All numbers with identical three digits as Jackpot 1:1,010
All numbers with the identical three digits as the 2nd prize 1:1,010
All numbers with identical three digits as the 3rd prize 1:1,010
All numbers with identical three digits as the 4th prize 1:505
All numbers with identical last two digits as the Jackpot 1:100
All numbers with identical last two digits as the 2nd prize 1:100
All numbers with identical last two digits as the 3rd prize 1:100
Consolation prize 1:56

Summer El Gordo Odds

If you’re wondering if it’s worth playing the Summer El Gordo, know that the chances of winning a prize are around 1 in 3. Even if you don’t get the big prize on the list, it’s still worth trying out those odds!

El Gordo Jackpots and Prizes

Note that each of the El Gordo labeled lottery games are different in terms of game setup but also jackpots. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Spain el Gordo de Navidad: As the biggest lottery in the world, this one will pay out an immense amount of money when you count all the prizes together. There’s a first prize of €4,000,000 and then multiple other prize categories, with each of these groups having multiple winners. The main prize may not be as big as those you’re used to with other major lotteries like Powerball or Mega Millions but the prizes combined can be as much as €2.5 billion, which is where its label of the world’s greatest lottery comes from.
  • Spain El Gordo de Verano: During summer you can get your hands on €20 million if you get it right in the El Gordo de Verano. There’s also another substantial jackpot prize of €2 million.
  • Weekly El Gordo Draws: You’ll have a minimum of €5 million as a jackpot prize, along with prizes in 8 other categories. If you only get the El Clave number correct, you’re eligible for a refund of your ticket cost.

How to Claim El Gordo Prizes

If you’ve played El Gordo de Primitiva and won, you’re eligible to claim your prize the day after the draw. With a ticket purchased in Spain, you can claim in the following ways when winning the El Gordo de Primitiva:

  • For prizes up to €2,000, simply visit registered outlets for a payout.
  • Any prizes over €2,000 must be claimed from certain banks, a list of which is provided by the organizers.
  • For players that use online lottery agents like TheLotter, it’s vital to check the policies of the platform. You may be able to claim smaller amounts and have it paid into your account directly. However, for larger prizes that have been won thanks to a ticket purchased on your behalf, you may need to travel and claim it in person, especially if you won the jackpot itself.

Easy Steps for Playing Spain’s El Gordo Weekly Lottery

How Will You Play?

This is a popular Spanish lottery that anyone can play locally. This you’ll do by purchasing a ticket from registered retailers. There’s also the luxury of using the El Gordo de la Primitiva online system.

A helpful tool with this lottery is that there are multi-draw tickets available as well. Make sure you request the right one when you buy your tickets.

Furthermore, its popularity also makes it a prime lottery you’ll find on online lottery sites and you’ll notice welcome extra features like 20% off when using, if you commit to playing 10 lines. There’s also the chance to pay a little less when using monthly subscription services, as is the case on WinTrillions. Plus, their layouts are very user friendly AND you can pick your numbers and secure your bet at any time of the day or night.

Pick Your Lucky Numbers

In the weekly El Gordo you pick numbers from two sets:

  • A set of five numbers, picking from the number range 1 to 54.
  • Another key number, also called the Numero Clave, between 0 and 9.

El Gordo lucky pick numbers

Credit: TheLotter

Finalize Your Purchase

Make sure that you have your ticket in hand and put it in a safe place if buying from local retailers. If you’re using handy online lottery agents it’s easy because the system will store your purchase on your behalf.

Make sure your purchase is finalized before the draw takes place, because there is a cut off time!

Monitor the Draw

If you haven’t won a prize in a while, don’t lose hope or stop checking your numbers diligently after each draw. Remember, you have a chance of winning with every new lottery ticket you pick.

The draw is at 21:30 local time each Sunday. The easiest way to make sure you don’t miss out on a prize is to monitor the draw on the Sunday it takes place. This way, there’s no chance of forgetting about it once Monday comes by and starts off a hectic week.

The results are shown on various platforms, thanks to an active social media presence of local Spanish role players. Once again, similar to buying your tickets, using the convenience of lottery agents is a smart option for checking results too. For example, Lottoland keeps stats updated and showcases the winning numbers online soon after the draw. You can also get automated messages in the case of your number selection being the same as the winning numbers.

Claim Your Prize

Make sure to claim your prize within 3 months of the draw, as this is the cut off time for prize payouts. As mentioned above, you can claim from lottery outlets, lottery agents or banks, all depending on how you played the game and how big your prize is.

Simple Steps for Playing Spain’s Christmas El Gordo

Plan Well

The Christmas El Gordo (and Summer El Gordo) lotteries only become active at a certain time of the year. You’ll need to be ready when the tickets go on sale, so put reminders on your calendar if you don’t want to forget and miss out.

How Will You Play?

For the Christmas El Gordo there are official lottery shops and many registered retail outlets that sell tickets legally. Beware though, because people take advantage of the lottery’s popularity and sell tickets illegally on the streets too. Don’t fall victim to fraudsters!

You’ll have a range of lottery agents to pick from as well, since this is a popular European lottery and many platforms sell tickets for the lottery itself, or to bet on the outcome. You can even use LottoSmile or other smaller platforms and you’ll see El Gordo is on the list of lottery options. These platforms all give you a chance to win a part of this big prize, but you can do it from the comfort of your home. This is also how international players can enjoy some of Spain’s Christmas spirit from afar!

Pick Your Number/s

For this raffle-like lottery you don’t simply get the next available number in the system. You still have the freedom to pick the numbers and the sequence of your ticket – as long as it falls between 00000 and 99999.

Note that a similar system applies for El Gordo de Verano.

El Gordo de Verano

Credit: Lottoland

Choose Your Stake (Decimo)

Apart from picking your numbers, you must confirm how big a percentage of the specific ticket you want to buy. An entire ticket, or just a 1/10?

Depending on who you purchase from, you may even be able to pick only 1/100 of a ticket if it’s more suitable for your budget.

Now you can pay for your ticket and await the big day.

Watch the Draw

Because of its popularity, you’re very likely to find the draw broadcast on some network, even if you don’t live in Spain, since multiple media outlets are usually present. This is quite a spectacular event, since children from a local school, the San de Alfonso, form part of the ticket draw and sing the results.

There’s even a livestream to help you keep up with what’s happening.

Still, your trustworthy lottery agents will also share the Christmas or Summer results and you can be notified of wins if you did strike it lucky.

How to Win Big With El Gordo Lotteries

Buy Multiple Tickets

There’s always a bigger chance of winning big if you enter a lottery draw multiple times. You’re increasing your chances of matching with the drawn numbers, so budgeting for a few, rather than just one ticket is a smart tactic in the long run.

When playing El Gordo de Verano and El Gordo de Navidad where there’s the opportunity to only purchase a percentage of a ticket, use this approach to your benefit. Rather than spending a large amount on one number, buy one fraction of multiple different raffle tickets, so you’re more likely to end up in a prize category.

Buy Your Ticket Early

With both El Gordo de Navidad and El Gordo de Verano, tickets become available a while before the big draw. Keep an eye out for announcements on the exact date, so you can secure your ticket with your lucky numbers early on.

Remember, players will quickly rush to buy the tickets with traditional lucky numbers like ‘7’, so don’t miss out on your chance simply because you take too long to secure your ticket.

Find Lucky Numbers

If you have numbers that have always served you well, use them when picking your number sequence. The number range for El Gordo de Primitiva is actually wider compared to some other popular lotteries that only allow you to pick numbers between 1 and 45. Use this greater flexibility to find numbers that work in your favor.

Also, try out different number picking strategies to see what works for you. You can try ‘pick 5’, ‘pick 4’ or ‘pick 3 strategies’ to streamline your plan. With the fairly low cost of the El Gordo de Primitiva, it’s easy to enter each week using different tactics and monitor which approaches give you the best outcomes.

In the raffle-like setup for El Gordo de Navidad and El Gordo de Verano, you can pick five numbers. This may not be able to facilitate the full number sequence of lucky dates that some people use as inspiration for lottery ticket numbers. Still, it’s enough to implement strategies such as starsign-based lucky number tactics.

Another bonus with this lottery is that you can pick a ticket number with all digits being the same, which isn’t possible in traditional lotteries. So, if number 7 is your lucky number, use it for all 5 digits and see what it brings!

Base Your Strategy on Statistics

When using online lottery agents you have easy access to months and even years of lottery statistics. Reputable platforms also showcase hot and cold numbers, so you can use different data to identify the numbers most likely to come up in a future draw.

Use Tech-driven Tools

To keep your lottery playing effortless, why not learn to use modern technology to pick numbers for you? Developers have given us lottery software that makes it much easier, or you can use apps to pick random numbers.

Note that you often have to pay for the lottery software, but if it helps you secure a win, it’s worth the expense, right?

Team Up With Other Players

Another easy way to increase your chances in winning any of the lotteries above, is to join forces with other players:

  • Join a syndicate that plays El Gordo de Primitiva by buying a large number of tickets, with everyone helping to cover the costs. Just make sure to get the agreement on paper so there are no squabbles when you need to distribute prize money.
  • If the high price of an El Gordo de Navidad ticket or even a fraction of a ticket is a bit too high for your budget, ask friends and family to all buy a ticket or a decimo together. The huge number of prizes available in this lottery raffle makes it worth joining in, even if you just own a small percentage of one ticket.

Final Thoughts

El Gordo is a phrase synonymous with lotteries, and it’s clear why there’s such a huge following for the Christmas El Gordo, but also the other El Gordo games. The facts above can help you be a more informed player and perhaps you learnt about a lottery you didn’t even know about before? Yet another place to try out your lucky numbers and strategies.

Now, document these dates, so you don’t lose out on the fun this year or next!


When is the Chrismas El Gordo draw?

This draw takes place during the festive season every year. Draws are usually scheduled for 22 December and take place around 9:00 CET.

What is the El Nino Lottery?

The El Nino lottery is another Spanish lottery closely associated with El Gordo. This one takes place soon after El Gordo de Navidad, at the start of January each year. There’s a €2 million jackpot, but how much you win depends on what percentage of a ticket you purchased.

Do you pay tax on Spanish lotteries?

Tax is payable, usually around 20% and especially if you win more than €40,000.

If you’re a non-resident winning in the Spanish lottery, there is a chance that you’ll pay a special tax. However, you can submit a request for a refund to Spain’s National Tax Management Office.

If your own country also taxes lottery winnings, it’s best to get professional advice regarding such a matter to ensure you don’t pay tax twice.

What was the biggest ever El Gordo de Primitiva jackpot?

There was a huge jackpot won in the El Gordo de Primitiva lottery in 2011. The prize money was over €33 million.

When can you buy Christmas El Gordo tickets?

The Christmas El Gordo lottery is open during the festive season each year, so you won’t be able to buy tickets for it throughout the months leading up to it. As soon as ticket sales open, get yours as soon as possible. Sales close on 21 December ahead of the draw on 22 December of each year.