We've won world's biggest lottery! Joy of unemployed Spanish workers as they scoop part of massive 2.5bn euro jackpot
Plenty of smiles in Alcal de Henares where some won 400,000 euro share27 million people win prizes in a country where one in four are jobless
18:27 GMT, 23 December 2012
Unemployed Spaniards in a highly indebted commuter town in the outskirts of Madrid have been celebrating winning the top prize in El Gordo, the world's biggest lottery.
The 200-year-old Christmas draw, known as The Fat One, doled out more than 2.5 billion euros (2bn) in prizes around the country, where one in four of the workforce is jobless.
There was a top individual prize of four million euros and smiles were particularly broad in Alcal de Henares, a university town 20 miles from the capital, where some people had won a 400,000 euro share in the jackpot.
Winners: Javier and his wife Silvia celebrate their lottery fortune outside an Alcala de Henares shop
Money, money, money: A group of friends toast their recession-hit town's El Gordo success
Many lived in the working-class neighbourhood and had bought tickets, known as decimos, for 20 euros. In Spain it is common for friends, relatives and colleagues to club together to buy the tickets, so the joy was spread even further.
Winner Javier Hernando, a middle-aged owner
of a bar in Alcala de Henares, a working class town 20 miles northeast
of Madrid, said the prize would allow him to look at life differently,
as European authorities press countries on the periphery of the euro
zone to raise the age of retirement.
Fellow winner Luis, 28, an unemployed electrician, said he would spend the money on buying a flat.
Around 1,800 people around the country bought shares in top prize tickets, and more than 25 million won some sort of prize.
Winning this year was particularly sweet, not just because Spain is suffering its second recession in three years, but also because 2012 is the last year winners will pay no tax on their takings.
Spain's centre-right government, which has introduced austerity measures this year to shrink its public deficit, ruled that from next year those who win over 2,500 euros will pay 20 percent to the state.
Celebrate: Manuel shows a photocopy of the winning number as he drives through a jubilant Alcal de Henares
Joyous: People celebrate winning the second prize in Manises, near Valencia
The lottery, which dates back to
1812, is an important Christmas tradition in Spain, with many families,
offices and bar regulars clubbing together to buy a full ticket for 200
Sales dipped 8 per cent this year to 2.47 billion euros compared to a 0.5 percent drop in 2011.
'It is no wonder that sales have gone
down taking into account the economic situation we are going through.
We are in crisis, people are out of work and have no income,' said a
spokeswoman for the National Lottery.
Those who did not win big can look
forward to the El Nino lottery on January 6, or Epiphany, when Spaniards
traditionally give presents to children.
That lottery will award 840 million euros, though winners will have to pay tax.
Raise a glass: Xavier Cos Valero sprays cava outside the shop where a winning ticket was bought in Barcelona