Drawing begins for Spain's $2.4 billion 'El Gordo' lottery

Children from a Madrid school have begun the much-awaited annual singing of winning numbers in Spain's massively popular Christmas lottery that will shower 2.3 billion euros ($2.4 billion) across the country.

People tune in across all media to follow the lottery whose top prize per winning ticket is 400,000 euros.

Other lotteries have larger individual top prizes but the El Gordo (The Fat One), which is held each Dec. 22, is ranked as the world's richest for the total prize money on offer.

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

The nationally-televised draw began Thursday morning in Madrid's Teatro Real opera house with children from Madrid*s San Ildefonso calling out the prizes.