Presentation of the Christmas lottery ticket design with Jesús Huerta, the president of Loterías. / R.C.

Christmas is coming, as tickets for Spain's massive festive lottery go on sale

You can now buy tickets, priced at 20 euros a 'decimo', for the Lotería de Navidad with its famous El Gordo top prize

J.M.

There is a reminder that Christmas is coming, right in the middle of a summer heatwave. As is traditional, it comes from Spain's National Lottery organisation which announced this week that tickets for the famous draw - with the El Gordo top prize - are now available to buy from vendors.

Once again, the organisation pays tribute to the country's cultural heritage by choosing the Prado work, The Virgin and Child in Glory by Carlo Maratti, to illustrate this year's Christmas lottery ticket. The masterpiece, painted in around 1680 by the Italian artist, depicts the Virgin Mary seated on a throne of clouds resting on a crescent moon and holding the Christ Child in her arms.

Jesús Huerta, the president of Spain's National Lottery, said that "one of the greatest challenges for the future that we have, as a public company, is to preserve and protect this tradition. It is important, on the one hand, not to lose the connection with the values of Spanish society, which have accompanied us, unalterable, for more than two centuries. On the other hand, we also have to evolve as a company at the service of the public".

He presented the now traditional summer campaign, which this year, in a humorous and friendly tone, emphasises the idea that even those who think they know everything don't know where the Christmas jackpot will fall.

For the 22 December televised draw, some 180 million Christmas lottery tickets have been put on sale. The issue amounts to 180 series (eight more than last year) of 100,000 numbers each, which will bring in 3,600 million euros, of which 70 per cent (2,520 million euros) will be distributed in prizes. I

Among the top prizes is the famous El Gordo, worth four million euros per series; the second prize, worth 1.25 million euros per series; and the third prize, worth 500,000 euros per series. The, smallest win, remains 20 euros.

Huerta said that Spain's National Lottery continues to maintain the social purpose with which it was founded in 1763, to "help hospitals, hospices and other works". It helps more than a million vulnerable people every year, through its collaboration with organisations such as the Red Cross, Caritas and the Spanish Association Against Cancer, among others.