Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Monday, 22 December 2008

El Gordo winning numbers announced


Schoolchildren sing the winning numbers in a live TV extravaganza

Up to 1,950 people have won a share in the world's richest lottery - Spain's El Gordo, or "Fat One".

The lottery has a total prize fund of $3.2bn (2.14bn; 2.3bn euros), some 100m euros more than last year.

The winning tickets bear the numbers 32365. The numbers were sung as a Gregorian chant by Madrid schoolchildren during a televised draw.

Tickets have been sold online to more than 140 countries and were purchased by four out of five Spanish residents.

Many punters had queued for hours in the capital to buy what organisers are calling "a slice of hope" in these troubled economic times.

With the country on the edge of recession, ticket sales have been slightly down on last year.

But most said that buying their annual ticket remains a tradition they are unwilling to break.

"I have less money so I buy less but I've still bought 20 tickets this year," one man told the BBC's Steve Kingstone, in Madrid.

The notoriously complicated draw for El Gordo takes place over several hours on live television with 13,000 tax free cash prizes at stake.

Many Spaniards find an excuse to leave work, and watch the unfolding drama in bars and restaurants.

Rather than offering a single jackpot, the lottery boasts that thousands of ticket holders will achieve a win of some kind.

But for most players, our correspondent says, El Gordo will come to a big fat nothing - mathematicians say the probability of breaking even is less than 6%.

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