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El Gordo

TV reporter apologises over her reaction to winning in Spain's bumper Christmas lottery

Viewers were annoyed when they found out Natalia Escudero had won just a fraction of the grand prize.

spain-christmas-lottery Children from Madrid's San Ildefonso school pick out lottery ticket numbers at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house during Spain's bumper Christmas lottery draw Paul White / PA Paul White / PA / PA

THE LUCKY HOLDERS of ticket number 26590 struck it rich in Spain yesterday when they won the top prize in the nation’s bumper Christmas lottery.

The top-prize winning number, known as El Gordo (The Fat One), worth €400,000 fell out of the enormous metallic shuffling bins in a live televised event.

A reporter for public broadcaster RTVE has apologised after she came under fire for telling her colleagues on live TV that she wouldn’t be in coming into work tomorrow when the winning numbers were called. 

Natalia Escudero started celebrating and screaming on camera alongside other winners before later revealing that she had actually won just a fraction of the winnings – €5,000. 

In response to criticism on social media from viewers who accused her of being unprofessional for misleading them to think she was among the big winners, Escudero tweeted to apologise and stated she had not “lied and manipulated”. 

To viewers who “felt cheated”, she said the last few months have been difficult for “personal reasons” and she was being honest about taking time off as she’s going on holidays. 


The incredibly popular lottery dishes out a total of €2.24 billion in prizes this year, including lots of smaller prizes.

Other lotteries have bigger individual top prizes but Spain’s Christmas lottery, held each year on 22 December, is ranked as the world’s richest for the total prize money involved.

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.

Children from Madrid’s San Ildefonso school called out the prizes on a nationally televised draw at Madrid’s Teatro Real opera house. The tiny wooden balls corresponding to the prizes roll down chutes from the two huge bins and are sung out by young girls and boys during the three-hour show.

Families, friends and co-workers buy tickets together as part of a holiday tradition.

They then gather around their television sets, radios or mobile phones, hoping that fortune shines on them. 

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.

- With reporting by PA

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