Lucky winners of world’s richest lottery
The lucky winners of the world's richest lottery have no doubt been celebrating, after finding out they will be taking home a share of more than $3 billion in prize money.
Spain's El Gordo lottery, also known as "The Fat One", is the world's richest lottery, paying out millions of euros every year to multiple winners.
This year thousands of people shared in the massive $A3.5 billion (2.24 billion euros) in prizes.
Other lotteries have bigger individual top prizes but Spain's Christmas lottery, held each year on December 22, is ranked as the world's richest for the total prize money involved.
The top prize was $A6.4 million (4 million euros) with the winning number this year being 26590.
The nationally televised draw was held at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house where children sang out the winning numbers during the three hour event.
The complex rules allow players to buy multiple tickets with the same numbers, which makes it almost impossible to find out how many people have won.
A full ticket costs $A320 (200 euros) but can be split evenly between 10 people for $32 (20 euros).
Because of this families or work colleagues often pool together to buy a share of a ticket.
So if ten people buy a shared ticket which wins the top prize each will receive $A641,500 (400,000 euros).
A single lottery office in the resort town of Salou in the northeast Catalan region, shared out $A513,200 (320 million euros) Spanish television station TVE reported.
Such are the riches that can be won, Spaniards spent more than $4.6 billion (2.9 billion euros) on lottery tickets in the hope of getting lucky, which was three per cent more than the previous year organisers said.
Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763 during the reign of King Carlos III. Its objective later became to shore up state coffers. It also helps several charities.
The winning tickets were sold in the northeastern provinces of Tarragona and Barcelona, in central Madrid and Salamanca, and in southern Alicante, Murcia and Seville.
Winners of the top prize will pay $A121,900 (76,000 euros) in taxes. Prizes up to $A32,000 (20,000 euros) are exempt from taxes.