Europe

Winners of Spain's 'El Gordo' $2.4B lottery take home $418K each

Agustin Moreno, owner of a lottery office, left, celebrates with Ainoha, Maribi and Monica, after selling the second prize Christmas lottery ticket ''El Gordo'' with the number 04536, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016. Celebrations were guaranteed Thursday in Madrid where tickets bearing the top prize number of 66513 in Spain's Christmas lottery, "El Gordo" were sold. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Agustin Moreno, owner of a lottery office, left, celebrates with Ainoha, Maribi and Monica, after selling the second prize Christmas lottery ticket ''El Gordo'' with the number 04536, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016. Celebrations were guaranteed Thursday in Madrid where tickets bearing the top prize number of 66513 in Spain's Christmas lottery, "El Gordo" were sold. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Celebrations were guaranteed Thursday in Madrid after all the tickets bearing the top prize number of 66513 in Spain's 2.3 billion euros ($2.4 billion) Christmas lottery were sold there.

The number appeared on 1,650 tickets in the lottery known as El Gordo (The Fat One), with each holder winning 400,000 euros ($418,000).

The winning tickets are normally sold in several different lottery offices around the country but this time they were all sold from one office in the Spanish capital, according to organizers.

Standard tickets cost 20 euros ($21) and people traditionally chip in and buy shares in several tickets with friends, family or workmates.

Queues form outside lottery booths weeks ahead of the Dec. 22 draw and people tune in across all media on Thursday to find out if they are among the lucky ones. The prize ticket numbers are sung out by pupils of Madrid's San Ildefonso School in a nationally televised event from the city's Teatro Real opera house.

Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763, during the reign of King Carlos III, but its objective gradually shifted toward filling state coffers. El Gordo itself dates from 1812.

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Other lotteries have larger individual top prizes but the El Gordo (The Fat One), is ranked as the world's richest for the total prize money on offer.

This year it dished out 25 million prizes.

Organizers said ticket sales totaled 2.6 billion euros this year, up 3.5 percent from last year.