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Must Be Won Draws

A ‘Must Be Won’ draw is one in which the jackpot money has to be given away. They are held in both Lotto and EuroMillions, taking place when rules come into effect relating to the game’s jackpot cap or rollover limit. If no tickets match the full winning line in these special draws, the funds for the top prize are diverted to other tiers.

How They Work in EuroMillions

When a Must Be Won draw is held in EuroMillions, the jackpot money goes down to the next tier in which there are winners if nobody matches all the numbers.

Unlike in Lotto, Must Be Won draws have become less frequent in EuroMillions as time has gone on. The original rules allowed the jackpot to roll just 11 times before a Must Be Won draw was held in the next draw. This first happened on Friday 3rd February 2006, when the top prize had to be won and three players split £126 million (€183 million). On Friday 17th November 2006, no tickets matched all the numbers in a Must Be Won draw so 20 players ended up winning £6.7 million (€9.6 million) each after matching five main numbers plus one Lucky Star.

A jackpot cap of €185 million was introduced in 2009 and this was later set at €190 million. The current rules allow for the jackpot to remain at this value for a maximum of four more draws before it must be won in the fifth draw at €190 million. The first Must Be Won draw at €190 million took place on Tuesday 8th October 2019, after the jackpot had reached its cap on 24th September. A ticket sold in the UK matched all the numbers to win a prize worth £170 million, so the money did not have to roll down.

How They Work in Lotto

In Lotto, a five-draw rollover limit has been introduced to replace the previous jackpot cap. If the jackpot rolls over for five consecutive draws, a Must Be Won draw will then take place in the following game.

If nobody matches all six main numbers in the Must Be Won draw, a jackpot rolldown will occur. Rather than just being diverted to players in the next prize category where there is at least one winner, jackpot rolldowns see the money shared between winning ticket holders in multiple tiers. Everyone from the ‘Match 3’ tier to the ‘Match 5 + Bonus’ tier receives a larger payout than the fixed prizes normally on offer.

The following table shows the percentage of the jackpot that will be allocated to each prize category if no tickets match all six main numbers in a Must Be Won draw.

Prize Tier Percentage of Jackpot *Estimated Prize
Match 5 + Bonus 3% £1.2 million (regular fixed prize is £1 million)
Match 5 6% £10,500 (regular fixed prize is £1,750)
Match 4 17% £500 (regular fixed prize is £140)
Match 3 74% £100 (regular fixed prize is £30)

*The prize amounts in a Must Be Won draw will depend on how many tickets are sold and the number of winners in each tier.

The five-draw rollover limit took effect in November 2018 to ensure the jackpot would be won more regularly, with the new rules marking the first time in National Lottery history that funds would roll down between multiple prize tiers if the jackpot was not won.

When the National Lottery was launched, there was initially a rollover limit rather than a jackpot cap, but the top prize was won very frequently and Must Be Won draws were rarely required. The first time that the jackpot had to be diverted to a lower tier was on Saturday 4th January 2014, when 23 players matched five main numbers plus the Bonus Balls to split a £13.3 million prize.

Under the rules at the time, the jackpot had to be won in this draw because there had been four consecutive rollovers. Regulations dictated that the jackpot had to be given away in the fifth draw if there were no ‘Match 6’ winners, with funds going just to the next tier in which there were winners.

The introduction of a jackpot cap in 2015, along with the addition of ten more balls to the number matrix, meant that the top prize was won less regularly. However, it still took nine or ten rollovers before a Must Be Won draw would be needed. The cap stood at £22 million before it was replaced.