The Goddess of Fortune may give me €300,000 tomorrow. That's almost US$400,000. Or I might get a lot less. Or nothing. The Goddess is fickle.
Tomorrow is the drawing of Spain's El Gordo, which has the world's biggest lottery payout: €2,320,500,000 — about 3 billion US dollars. It will be awarded in 26 million different prizes, most quite small: sometimes you only get back what you paid for your ticket. It's complicated, but I don't need to understand it.
As last year, I bought my décima, a tenth of a part of a lottery ticket, for €20 at work. We send the secretary-receptionist around the corner to Don Tonino's Lottery Shop to buy tickets with the same number. We're in this together, which makes El Gordo more fun, and my coworkers will explain everything I don't understand.
Plenty of people consider certain numbers and vendors more lucky than others, although we were content with whatever Don Tonino had. These vendors are in Puerta del Sol in downtown Madrid, displaying their lucky numbers.
This year, 11710 sold out first. It represents 11 July 2010, the date when Spain's soccer team won the World Cup. The number 11555 has also sold out, which corresponds to 115 minutes 55 seconds, which was when Andrés Iniesta made the winning goal in the final game. The birth date of Rafael Nadal, 03786, and the date he won the US Open, 13910, are also sought-after numbers.
Many people buy more than one ticket on the theory that it will increase their luck. But Adam Smith has said that nothing is mathematically more certain than that the more tickets you buy, the more certain you are to lose. So I'll stop at one. My chances of winning the big prize are 1 in 85,000, but my chances of losing cannot exceed 1 out of 1.
I'll let you know how I do.
— Sue Burke