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Christmas lottery: Spain's luckiest (and unluckiest) places
PLAYING the El Gordo can turn out to be a postcode lottery – literally – depending upon how much you believe in fortune and history repeating itself: some locations seem to have all the luck, and others have never seen a win in the 206-year history of the draw.
Since the year 1812 when the first El Gordo Christmas lottery was drawn, Madrid has been the city with the most wins – 80 – whilst Barcelona has scooped up 47, Valencia 21, Sevilla 16, Cádiz 15, Málaga 14, and Alicante, Bilbao, Zaragoza and Murcia, 11, not including this morning's draw.
This might seem obvious, though, given that they appear to be listed in descending order of size, at least for the top four.
But first-prize winning El Gordo tickets do not follow a pattern when it comes to the provinces with the greatest success – a total of 12 of them have had at least five jackpots, and they are neither the largest, the smallest, nor concentrated in a specific area.
Provinces with more than five wins...
Asturias and Cantabria have been home to the winning ticket-holders – or at least, the shops which sold the jackpot décimos – nine times each, whilst the provinces of Granada (Andalucía), Badajoz (Extremadura), and the Balearic Islands have attracted the top prize eight times, not including today's draw.
The provinces of Lugo and A Coruña (Galicia), Córdoba (Andalucía), and Guipúzcoa, in the Basque Country, whose capital is San Sebastián, have each had six top wins, and those of Burgos (Castilla y León) and Lleida (Catalunya) and the northern region of Navarra, five each.
...and fewer than five wins
La Rioja, the Canarian province of Las Palmas, León and its near neighbour Segovia, Huesca (Aragón), and Almería and Jaén have all had four jackpots, whilst Álava in the Basque Country – whose capital is Vitoria-Gasteiz – along with Albacete, Cuenca and Ciudad Real (Castilla-La Mancha), Castellón (Comunidad Valenciana), Valladolid (Castilla y León), and Tenerife have had three winning tickets.
Girona (Catalunya), Guadalajara and Toledo (Castilla-La Mancha), Soria and Palencia (Castilla y León), Cáceres (Extremadura) and Pontevedra (Galicia) have twice been home to the winning numbers, and Huelva (Andalucía), Ourense (Galicia), Teruel (Aragón), Salamanca (Castilla y León) and the island of Lanzarote only once.
Provinces where nobody has ever won
But if you live in the provinces of Tarragona (Catalunya), Ávila or Zamora (Castilla y León), you will never have won the jackpot: not once, since 1812, has a person residing in any of these or who bought their ticket there ever taken home the top prize, currently €4 million for a full ticket or €400,000 for a décimo, or tenth of a ticket, which is the usual denomination the El Gordo is purchased in.
And they have still escaped getting the winning ticket this year.
Three towns have not won an El Gordo jackpot in more than a century: Almería, which last won it in 1896; Lleida, where the last top-prize number was drawn in 1901, and Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz province), which has never had a first-prize ticket since the year 1837.
Where it all started
The National Lottery, of which the El Gordo is the Christmas draw, was created in Cádiz during the War of Independence and first held on March 4, 1812, a week before the first-ever Spanish Constitution was signed in the city of the same name, before shifting its head office to Madrid in 1814 and gradually extending across the country as Napoleon's armies withdrew.
In its first year, the El Gordo cost 40 Reales a ticket with a jackpot of 8,000 Pesos Fuertes, and a winning number of 03604.
One Peso Fuerte, also called Reales de a Ocho or 'Pieces of Eight', was worth five Spanish Pesetas, meaning the 1812 jackpot was worth the equivalent of €240 – an absolute fortune two centuries ago and more than enough to keep a family in very luxurious conditions for a couple of years at least.
Recurring number patters (5 seems to be well-starred)
The number 5 has been the most-repeated fifth number in a first-prize combination – 31 times – whilst 4 and 6 have been the final numbers 27 times.
Only one top-prize number combination has ever come up twice – 15640, in the year 1956 and again in 1978.
The highest number ever drawn was 79258, at Christmas 2009, and the lowest was 00523, in the year 1828.
On four occasions, number combinations have involved the same last three digits – in the year 1880, ticket number 35999 won, and in 1895, the jackpot went to ticket number 25444. Then, Spain would have to wait exactly 40 years for it to happen again: in 1935, when the top tcket drawn was number 25888. The last time this occurred was in 1949, when the winning combination was 55666.
Curiously, each time the last three digits of the combination have been the same, the second digit was a 5.
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