Spain is holding its traditional Christmas lottery known as “El Gordo” and handing out 2.3 billion euro (£1.95 billion) in winnings that will be a particularly sweet holiday treat at a time of economic woes and 20% unemployment.
The lottery, billed as the world’s richest, has no single jackpot but uses a complex share-the-wealth system in which thousands of five-digit numbers running from 00000 to 84999 win something. This can range from a 20 euro (£17) coupon to 300,000 euro (£255,000).
The sweepstake takes about three hours to complete and is considered as ushering in the official start of the Christmas season in Spain.
Winning numbers will be sung out by children from a Madrid school that used to be a home for orphans.