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Nearly 250 years of giving voice to luck

Diego Lopez, a San Ildefonso child, became the first to share the luck in a national lottery draw on March 9, 1771.

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Nearly 250 years of giving voice to luck

Diego Lopez, a San Ildefonso child, became the first to share the luck in a national lottery draw on March 9, 1771. There were no automated drums or lyres to place balls with graceful numbers. The expectation was not the same as today. Carlos III was the ruler of Spain. A prize of 8,000 pesetas (48.08 euro) was awarded. This year, the children from San Ildefonso will be giving in the Christmas Lottery draw for a first prize worth 400,000 euros per 10th (65.5 million pesetas from the eighteenth-century). El Gordo's tenths are available online, and a lot has happened since then.

Diego was taken in by the Catholic Monarchs three centuries before. This institution was established to care for orphans or minors left behind after wars and plague. This is the same mission that the Colegio de San Ildefonso still pursues, making it the most prominent institution in Madrid for children who have been abandoned. Legend has it that the children used to hold raffles on streets and squares during those years, which earned them tips or donations that would be used for school maintenance.

The first modern lottery was created in 1812, which was the year when the first Spanish Constitution was published. This system was very similar to the one we have today. The prizes weren't in balls but were in paper. They first appeared in 1913.

The state agency that administered the lotteries wanted the voice of the children. They were willing to take part in the draws. They needed to learn how to read numbers and prizes and sing them clearly and without mistakes. They sang the Christmas lottery jackpot on December 23, 1892.

The Colegio de San Ildefonso students have excelled in this lottery mission over the years. The little ones were trained for the raffle at the end of class, particularly the Christmas one. The lyres, and balls, which were used for years to practice, can still be seen in the old students' quarters. The school was awarded a sum for the maintenance of the lyres and balls they used in practice during the draws.

Children were able to do it free of charge and received a 'tip,' which was placed in an open card. The State paid for the San Ildefonso Boarding House and the children received and continue to receive scholarships for higher education. Bets and State Lottery also provide financial assistance for residents without economic means.

Although the first children from the neighborhood were admitted to school in 1973, it wasn't until 1981 that the Colegio de San Ildefonso opened its doors to girls. The drawings were only open to the children who had been in their neighborhood for three years.

Two San Ildefonso girls sing the Gordo 2018. / EP

The exclusive status of being the lottery distributors was lost by the students at San Ildefonso in 2018. This disappointment has been averted but not implemented. As head of the school, the Madrid City Council removed the 'rights and obligations' of students. It established the following precept: "The possibility of participating in the draws of ONLAE -currently State Society of State Lotteries and Bets - and to receive the compensations that result from it."

Thirty children from San Ildefonso will be back next Sunday, the 22nd, to once again star in the Christmas raffle. They have been working hard over the past two months to prepare for their big moment before the public and television cameras.

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