La Primitiva

By Nicholas Christensen
Last Updated: October 3, 2018

Spain’s famous bi-weekly lottery, the La Primitiva, is in a class of its own. Despite basing its mechanics off the classic 6/49 format, the game manages to add a unique twist to a tried and tested formula. By adding two bonus balls to the mix—instead of the usual one bonus ball—players now have more chances of winning big. More than that, La Primitiva is also a rollover lottery, which means jackpots can keep on growing until someone wins! Intrigued? Join me below as I find out what makes La Primitiva tick.

About La Primitiva

La Primitiva Logo

Dating way back in the 1700’s, La Primitiva is one of the longest lotteries in existence. It was known as Loteria por Numeros back then, and the very first draw was held on the tail-end of 1763. Originally, the mechanics of the game simply had players picking five numbers from a selection pool of 1 to 50.

In 1812, however, a more modern take was introduced, making the original version change its name to La Primitiva. Unfortunately, it was abolished by royal decree in 1862. A century later, in 1985 to be exact, La Primitiva was resurrected. The very first drawing of the newly revitalized lottery was on October 17, 1985. The format used during the game’s resurgence is also the basis for the current version’s mechanics—with a few changes, of course.

Quick La Primitiva Facts

  • Bi-Weekly Draws: Players have two chances to win each week, as draws are held every Thursday and Saturday.
  • Rollover Lottery: La Primitiva jackpots rollover to the next draw whenever no one wins the current draw.
  • Minimum Guaranteed Jackpot: Players can win at least €3 million here.
  • The Reintegro: La Primitiva’s Reintegro—an additional number that is randomly chosen for you—determines the top prize winner and allows for big wins.
  • Lump Sum: La Primitiva prizes are all paid out as a lump sum.

How Does La Primitiva Work?

The Basics

La Primitiva’s mechanics are based off the traditional 6/49 format—similar to the German Lotto 6aus49—but with an added twist. You simply choose six main numbers from a guess range of 1 to 49, plus a bonus number called the Complementario. Another number, the Reintegro, is then randomly chosen and assigned to you.

To win the top prize, you must match all six of your main numbers, plus the Reintegro. This allows you to win the jackpot plus an additional, “special” prize on top. Matching all six numbers without the Reintegro only awards you with the jackpot. Meanwhile, the Complementario only comes into play if you manage to match it along with five of your numbers. Matching the Complementario allows you to win by as much as 20 times a normal 5-number win.

Interestingly, if you happen to match the Reintegro (which actually means “refund”) you will be refunded the price of your bet. This applies whether you match all six of your main numbers or not. That is, you can be refunded even if you only match the Reintegro.

The Odds of Winning

In total, La Primitiva gives you the chance to win in 7 prize tiers. Your best bet—matching only the Reintegro—is a 1 in 10 chance, while winning the top prize is much, much harder. Check out the odds breakdown below:

Numbers MatchedOdds of Winning
6 + Reintegro1 in 139,838,160
61 in 13,983,816
5 + Complementario1 in 2,330,636
51 in 55,491
41 in 1,032
31 in 57
Reintegro1 in 10

So What Happens if You Win?

La Primitiva prizes are paid out in lump sum form, so don’t expect any annuity options. More importantly, take note that some prizes are not tax-free. Back then, all prizes were considered tax-free but in 2013, the rules changed so that lottery funds would be used to help the Spanish economy. As such, two tax categories were created.

For winners of prizes amounting to €2,500 or less, you don’t have to worry about taxes. However, if your winnings go beyond €2,500, 20% will be deducted from your prize. If you’re playing from another country, however, La Primitiva will give you a tax refund. Of course, you may still have to deal with other tax deductions—depending on the laws where you live.

The Biggest La Primitiva Winners

La Primitiva has been producing millionaires in its long existence in the industry. While the jackpots aren’t as big as, say, the US Powerball’s, they are still quite sizable. Here are some of the biggest winners so far:

JackpotWinnersDate
€101,724,5591Oct. 15, 2015
€73,000,0002Feb. 22, 2014
€67,000,0001Aug. 3, 2013
€32,400,0001Jan. 12, 2013

La Primitiva Fun Facts

  • La Primitiva is one of the oldest lotteries around.
  • The lottery’s name literally means “the primitive one”.
  • The first ever draw was held on December 10, 1763.
  • Around 70% of the lottery fund goes to prizes.
  • La Primitiva has one of the most unique lottery mechanics around, wherein two different types of bonus balls—each one with a different effect—are played.

Bottom Line on La Primitiva

Spain’s La Primitiva lottery has been in the industry for a very long time—with good reason. Despite having various changes to the formula, the game has largely endured. The most modern version successfully carries on its own legacy—offering a simple, yet compelling lottery game that lotto lovers from all over will no doubt enjoy.

The bi-weekly format gives you two chances to win each week, while the rollover mechanic allows for bigger and bigger jackpots whenever no one wins a draw. More interestingly, the unique 2-bonus balls mechanic allows you to win even bigger prizes—or at least get a refund of the ticket price. In short, La Primitiva offers several opportunities for you to come out a winner.

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