How the National Lottery Finds Jackpot Winners
All winners have 180 days to come forward and claim prizes in the UK, but there is always more interest in whether a large jackpot has been paid out.
As time goes on and prizes remain unclaimed, the balancing act for the National Lottery is spreading the word about big jackpots so that they definitely get claimed before they expire, without releasing information that the winner may not wish to be disclosed.
Find out how the National Lottery locates jackpot winners to help make sure that the luckiest ticket holders receive their money.
Days 1 to 14
If you win any prize, it is entirely your decision as to when you come forward within the 180-day timeframe. The National Lottery will not reveal any details about where a big winning ticket was sold in the first couple of weeks after a draw, in case you would prefer to stay anonymous and keep this information private.
It may be that you want to take some time to seek financial advice, let the news sink in or just enjoy the feeling of normality for a bit longer. Alternatively, you may not check your tickets that regularly; you could have a routine of only looking at your old entries every week or every fortnight, or perhaps you have been on holiday or too busy.
Days 14 to 30
While it is not uncommon for players to wait a few days or more to pick up prizes, especially large ones, the National Lottery does step up its efforts to raise awareness and find jackpot winners after two weeks.
The first course of action is to reveal the area in which the winning ticket was bought. This is done two weeks after the draw and is intended to jog the memories of anyone in that region who bought an entry. The lottery will even send out representatives to the location in question to try and drum up publicity, perhaps having them take part in a fun run or drive around in an ad van.
It is vital to check your entries in the first 30 days after the draw. If you have lost your ticket but think you might be a winner, you could still be paid out if you get in touch with the National Lottery in this time. You need to provide as much information as you can about the ticket, including the shop where you bought it and the date and time of your purchase.
You should also state which draw dates it was valid for, how many entries you purchased and the numbers you played. The more information you can provide, the more chance there is that your claim will be successful, as the National Lottery has a record of all tickets that have been entered and will rigorously investigate any claim before paying out.
If you play online, you still need to contact the National Lottery if you win a prize that is too big to be paid straight into your account. However, it is far less likely that you will miss out on any award as you will be notified by email of any win. Your numbers are also stored safely online so they cannot be lost or stolen.
Days 30 to 180
Beyond the 30th day after a draw, it is not possible to claim a prize unless you have a valid winning ticket. The National Lottery will continue reminding players to check their entries or look anywhere they might have lost one, such as in a trouser pocket or down the back of a sofa.
As long as you come forward with a winning entry before the 180-day deadline, you will still be paid the full amount and have the same rights as anyone who came forward straight away. If you choose to stay anonymous, no more details will be revealed about you or even whether you played individually or as a syndicate.
You can also decide to go public and share your story if you prefer. Andrew Clark, a builder from Boston, opted for publicity in December 2018 when he came forward six weeks after winning a EuroMillions jackpot of £76 million. He had left a collection of tickets in his van all that time and eventually had his partner to thank for urging him to check them.
The 180th day after a draw is the final date that you can come forward. This deadline will be repeatedly publicised so that you know how long you have left, and as long as you make contact with the National Lottery before this day is over you will still be paid your prize.
After more than 180 days have passed, it is too late to come forward and claim any prizes. Even if you take a ticket including all the winning numbers to the National Lottery, your entry will have expired and will be rendered worthless.
After 180 Days
The National Lottery will not pay out on any tickets that are more than 180 days’ old, regardless of the circumstances that may have prevented an earlier claim. Instead, it donates all unclaimed prizes to the Good Causes Fund after 180 days.
This money is used to help support thousands of worthwhile projects in various different sectors - health, education, environment and charitable causes; sports; arts; and heritage. The Good Causes Fund also receives 28p from every £1 spent on National Lottery tickets.
Unfortunately, millions of pounds worth of prizes go unclaimed every year, and in 2012 a EuroMillions jackpot of £63 million was never collected. Go to the Unclaimed Prizes page to see the current list of awards that are still outstanding, and make sure you check your tickets to make sure you don’t miss out on a fortune.Published: Tuesday 18th June 2019
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