The $2 billion (yes, that's billion) 'Fat One' lottery

El Gordo Spanish lottery
Spain's El Gordo lottery is set to pay out more than 2 billion euros in prizes on Tuesday night.

Spain's El Gordo lottery is paying out more than 2 billion euros in prizes Tuesday.

El Gordo, which means the Fat One in Spanish, is one of the biggest lotteries in the world. Although it's operated out of Spain, anyone in the world can buy a ticket online.

This year El Gordo has collected more than $3 billion, and is set to issue winnings of 2.2 billion euros ($ 2.4 billion).

Tickets cost 200 euros ($218) each, but groups of would-be winners often go in together on tickets and split the prize. In fact, whole villages sometimes buy into El Gordo as part of their Christmas celebrations, while some Spanish companies hand out tickets to employees.

The top prize is capped at 4 million euros ($4.36 million), which is split up among a number of winning tickets. So there will be thousands of winners -- a big reason why millions around the world buy tickets. It's estimated that three quarters of the Spanish population but at least one ticket every year.

The annual Christmas lottery dates back to 1812.

It comes just as the economy is recovering from the economic crisis and years of austerity, as well as a Spanish general election in Spain has left no political party with a clear majority.

Correction: A previous version of this article included an incorrect currency conversion.

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