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Spain's traditional Christmas lottery awarded $1.2 billion today, including a $270 million grand prize known as "El Gordo," the Fat One.

Schoolchildren chimed out the winning numbers of the jackpot that will be shared by the holders of a ticket series sold in the southern city of Granada.

Residents celebrated in the city's streets, popping champagne corks and waving tickets bearing the winning number: 43728. Francisco Gamarra's present of lottery tickets to the staff at his hairdressing salon suddenly turned from a goodwill gesture into a $124,000 Christmas bonus.

The lottery, begun in 1818, bills itself as the world's richest.

The number of actual winners was unknown. Each series is divided into 130 tickets that are split into 10 $20 shares, and some are divided even further. Most Spaniards share tickets with family, friends and co-workers.

The multiple-division system and a tradition of seasonal generosity mean the luck ripples through whole communities.

Miguel Mejias, a retiree, bought 16 ticket shares that won the grand prize. He gave 15 away to the less fortunate, national radio reported.

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