El Gordo: Struggling Spanish town wins fortune from lottery

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Media captionCelebrations in Madrid where the top prize-winning tickets of the El Gordo lottery were sold in one neighbourhood

Spain's annual Christmas lottery has paid out €56m ($58m; £47m) to residents of a struggling southern town where almost a third of the population are out of work.

Much of the winnings in Pinos Puente, in Granada, came from tickets sold by the local branch of the tiny United Left political coalition.

El Gordo, the world's biggest Christmas lottery, has no single jackpot, with winnings distributed among thousands.

This year the prizes totalled €2.31bn.

Each ticket has a five-digit number, reprinted numerous times in so-called series, costing €200. Because of the price, they are divided into 10 sub-tickets ("decimo"), each costing €20.

El Gordo, Spanish for "the Fat One", is a Christmas tradition. People traditionally chip in together, participating with friends, families or workmates.

It has a huge impact for the winners, as the national unemployment rate is around 19%, even higher among the under-25s.

In Pinos Puente - a city of 13,000 people, with unemployment of 29% and a budget of €8m - 451 "decimos" of the winning 04536 number were sold, each paying €125,000.

Residents took to the streets in celebration, dancing and singing together. Many of the winners were from poor families.

A resident called Alba told El Periodico newspaper (in Spanish) that she had not had enough money to buy Christmas presents but that, now, she would be able to help her family.

Mayor Jose Enrique Medina told AFP news agency: "It is a lot of money for a town that has been punished hard. The prize money was widely distributed, it went to many families that really needed it."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The second biggest prize went to tickets with the number 04536
Image copyright AP
Image caption Celebrations erupted in Madrid after all the tickets with the top prize-winning number were sold in only one neighbourhood

The main prize went for the tickets 66513, all of them sold at a lottery office in the capital Madrid.

The number appeared in 1,650 "decimos", paying each holder €400,000.

The winners included staff from the Madrid headquarters of Spain's PSOE socialist party.

"A great end to a difficult year", the party said on Twitter.

The PSOE lost general elections in December last year and in June against the centre-right People's Party.

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