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The Globe and Mail

El Gordo a bright spot for recession-weary Spain

With almost 23% of adults without work, playing the lottery - the world's largest by total payout - remains a priority for even the hardest-pressed

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A young woman holds lottery tickets in front of the famous lottery shop Dona Manolita near the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid on Dec. 21, 2011, the evening before the El Gordo draw. Millions of crisis-hit Spaniards snatched up tickets for the world's richest lottery draw, held Thursday, which showered winners with a record $3.3 billion in prizes.

Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty Images/Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

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Students in Madrid hold up balls Thursday with the numbers that won the first prize during the draw for Spain's Christmas Lottery 'El Gordo.' The total prize money of $3.3-billion is split into thousands of cash prizes amongst hundreds of winning numbers.

Andrea Comas/Reuters/Andrea Comas/Reuters

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Dressed in costumes adorned with old lottery tickets, a pair of women attend the draw Thursday for Spain's Christmas Lottery 'El Gordo' in Madrid.

Andrea Comas/Reuters/Andrea Comas/Reuters

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Old lottery tickets adorn a woman's shoes and the hem of her dress at the drawing of 'El Gordo,' Spain's multibillion-euro Christmas lottery.

Andrea Comas/Reuters/Andrea Comas/Reuters

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A man belonging to the Moraleja de Enmedio co-operative attends the draw Thursday for Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' while dressed as a house. The co-op has been protesting a decade-long delay by authorities in the building of their houses.

Andrea Comas/Reuters/Andrea Comas/Reuters

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People celebrate winning a portion of Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' Thursday in Granen, northern Spain, December 22, 2011. The lottery has provided a rare bright spot for a nation hammered by unemployment and the global financial crisis.

Luis Correas/Reuters/Luis Correas/Reuters

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A crowd celebrates Thursday after winning second prize in Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' (the Fat One) in Manises, near Valencia. Crisis-hit Spaniards bought a record number of tickets to make this El Gordo the richest ever with $3.3-billion in prizes split amongst thousands of winners.

Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images/Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images

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A winner shows the numbers of the second prize of Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' in Manises, near Valencia, Dec. 22, 2011. The total prize of $3.3-billion is split into thousands of cash prizes amongst hundreds of winning numbers. REUTERS/Heino Kalis (SPAIN - Tags: SOCIETY)

Heino Kalis/Reuters/Heino Kalis/Reuters

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People share a bottle of cava Thursday as they celebrate winning the second prize of Spain's Christmas Lottery 'El Gordo' in Manises, near Valencia. With the economy in the dumps, the lottery has offered a rare bright spot for recession-weary Spaniards.

Heino Kalis/Reuters/Heino Kalis/Reuters

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Members of the People's Party (Partido Popular) celebrate winning the second prize of Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' in Manises, near Valencia, Dec. 22, 2011. Millions of Spaniards buy tickets for the lottery every year, making it the world's richest by pay-out.

Heino Kalis/Reuters/Heino Kalis/Reuters

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A member of the People's Party (Partido Popular) celebrates winning the second prize of Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' next to a figure of Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in Manises, near Valencia, Dec. 22, 2011.

Heino Kalis/Reuters/Heino Kalis/Reuters

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People in Granen, northern Spain, form a conga line Thursday to celebrate winning part of the 'El Gordo' lottery.

Luis Correas/Reuters/Luis Correas/Reuters

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Happy winners show the numbers of the second prize of Spain's Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' in Manises, near Valencia on Thursday. With millions of Spaniards trying their luck for thousands of prizes, the lottery's $3.3-billion total payout is the world's richest.

Heino Kalis/Reuters/Heino Kalis/Reuters

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