Lottery Wins That Were Never Claimed
The National Lottery is played by many people across the United Kingdom, and it has resulted in some huge winners. Not only that, but it has also generated money for various projects around the country as well, making it one of the more respected forms of legal gambling. However, it’s also the case that sometimes people don’t really know that they’ve won. This results in winnings being unclaimed and often just lingering around for a period of time.
The rule of the National Lottery is that should a valid claim not be made within 180 days of the draw date, the prize and any interest that it has generated will be forfeited. In this circumstance, it will go towards National Lottery Projects across the UK. This year has been quite the trying one with regard to the onrush of precautions in response to coronabirus being taken by the Government. Much of the funding from the National Lottery has gone towards communities affected by the pandemic in 2020.
Yet, how much currently remains unclaimed from the National Lottery? And what are some of the biggest wins that nobody ever came forward to claim as their own? Plus, is it mainly huge wins that pass by without people claiming the money or do smaller wins also miss out on being claimed?
Current 2020 Unclaimed Lottery Money
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At things stand at the moment, there are several large lottery wins that have gone unclaimed in 2020. These are shown in the table above.
This means that, at the time of writing, there is over £8 million in prize funds that have been left unclaimed within the past six months. That is nothing in comparison to a little bit earlier on in 2020, though.
A September deadline for a South Ayrshire EuroMillions winner who struck the jackpot of £57,869,670 on March 17 was reported in August. If that was left unclaimed on its September 13 deadline, then it will have all gone to the National Lottery Projects fund instead.
The same is true of the £8 million+ waiting to be claimed as noted in the table above if players don’t come forth with their winning tickets. But is this a common occurrence? And why would people not keep a hold of their ticket and keep a check on the results? Plus, if players do know they’ve won, why wouldn’t they come forward and claim the money?
£125 Million Left Unclaimed in 2018
A report last year suggested that over £125 million in both Lottery and scratchcard prizes went unclaimed in 2018. Over half of the million-pound prizes were from tickets purchased in the capital city of London, and many of the prizes were for the EuroMillions Millionaire Maker game. However, these weren’t all huge jackpot wins. As it happens, the prizes ranged from millions of pounds to just a couple of quid.
Unfortunately, many of the UK Millionaire Maker competition wins could potentially be unclaimed due to the winners of such not knowing they’ve hit the big one. This raffle, which EuroMillions and Lotto ticket holders are automatically entered into when they purchase a ticket, may be something that simply passes them by without another thought. It guarantees at least one player will win £1 million on every single draw, but maybe it means that players aren’t really checking their tickets correctly and carefully when those draws occur.
The 2018-19 period witnessed over £4.1 billion being won on the National Lottery by its players, and the unclaimed prizes made up 3% of the total, which was passed on to good causes around the country. However, the 3% figure was a rise of 2.1% compared with the previous 2017-18 period.
Potentially the big issue coming from the unclaimed Millionaire Maker competition, is that people aren’t totally sure how to check it. The code on the bottom half of a standard Lotto or EuroMillions ticket is what you need to use for checking to see if you’re a winner. It consists of four letters and five numbers, and this code needs to match the raffle code randomly pulled from the draw.
That being said, the operator of the National Lottery, Camelot said that once it publishes how much money is left up for grabs, a number of people contact them directly to make their claim.
Reasons Why Lottery Wins Go Unclaimed
There could be a variety of reasons as to why lottery wins, big or small, go unclaimed. The main reason behind it is that tickets are purchased and then left behind in a drawer somewhere, completely forgotten by the player. Another big reason is that players don’t actually realise that they have won and so don’t come forward to claim the prize. Of course, this is primarily speculation on Camelot’s part.
A spokesperson for the company said that it’s reasonable to assume that cases have occurred with lottery tickets being lost. That’s why it has placed quite the heavy emphasis on playing the game online rather than with physical tickets. This cancels out forgotten tickets and lost tickets, as if you ever win, you’re sent an email notification to inform you of such and your tickets are completely electronic.
It does seem like a silly thing to repeat, but it’s also the case that some people aren’t aware they’re involved in the Millionaire Maker raffle draw. With it, players just buy a EuroMillions or Lotto ticket with their numbers on it for the specific draw. It’s not uncommon for such players to pretty much bypass the raffle numbers and letters at the bottom of the ticket. This is why there are so many £1,000,000 prizes going unclaimed from that particular draw.
One other thing to mention about people not claiming their prize money is that some people simply take the decision not to obtain small wins. If someone plays the Lotto and only wins a couple of pounds, they might think it’s not worth the hassle of going to an outlet to cash in the winnings. Instead, they simply let it circulate into the National Lottery Projects fund.
It may also be the case that the person who has purchased the winning ticket has passed away prior to the draw being made. While this is a rare circumstance, what would happen in this instance? Well, if a family or relative gets their hands on a physical winning ticket in this scenario, there’s very little to stop them taking it to a retail store and claiming the win for themselves. Of course, it’s not the same if the player had an online account and bought their tickets through such. It’s likely that unless someone found out about it and contacted The National Lottery, the winnings would remain unclaimed and go towards good causes in the end.
And it’s not just the United Kingdom where lottery wins go unclaimed. In the United States, the 2016-17 period saw $2.89 billion (£2.18 billion) go unclaimed in lottery wins, while in Australia, the Victoria Revenue Office holds AUD$567 million (£312 million) in unclaimed prizes as of 2019.
Unclaimed Record Lottery Jackpots Around the World
It’s not so uncommon then for lotteries around the world to witness unclaimed prizes of large amounts. But what are some of the largest jackpots that have gone without anyone coming forward to claim them?
Well, back in 2011, a $77 million (£58 million) lottery win in Georgia, USA went without anyone stepping forward to claim the funds. As in the UK, the Georgia state lottery provides players with 180 days to be able to claim a win. However, the lucky winner was never found in this case. A Powerball ticket from June 29 of that year wasn’t handed over by the deadline. However, the US has a different way of proceeding with unclaimed prizes. The $77 million jackpot win was therefore returned proportionately to each of the states participating in that particular drawing. Therefore, 42 US states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands all got a share of the $77 million for participating in the Powerball.
Back in the United Kingdom, and a £63.8 million EuroMillions jackpot win was never claimed in 2012. The National Lottery made the announcement that the winning ticket was purchased from a shop located in the Stevenage and Hitchin area of Hertfordshire. However, despite various announcements and an ongoing search for the winner, nobody ever came forward to claim the huge jackpot win. This remains as the biggest unclaimed lottery jackpot ever, with nobody venturing forth within the 180-day period to claim it. Of course, the money and the interest that it managed to generate within that time period went to the good causes of the National Lottery.
In Europe, one of the largest unclaimed lottery wins occurred in Spain, when the winner of a €4.7 million La Primitiva lottery wasn’t able to be found. Also taking place in 2012, the winner of such remains quite the confusing topic to this day. Authorities have never been able to determine whether or not a genuine ticket holder has made their way forward. That’s nothing compared to Germany though, where an €11.3 million win on the 6/49 lottery wasn’t ever claimed. Taking place in April of 2017, by the time the second anniversary of that win had arrived, still nobody had come forward to pick it up. The expiry date of that win stretched to April 2020, by which time the funds still hadn’t been sought out by a winning ticket holder.
And while it’s true that Canadian lottery winners do seem to be much more careful about checking their tickets than Americans, that didn’t stop a CAD$14.9 million (£7.1 million at the time) win from going unclaimed in 2006.
Unclaimed Lottery Wins For Lower Prizes
Generally speaking, the biggest wins unclaimed are frequently reported in the news. And even via the National Lottery website, it’s only the largest unclaimed wins that are reported by Camelot. However, it stands to reason that the lower unclaimed wins aren’t reported there. Why? Because there are probably so many of them that it doesn’t bear posting. As noted earlier, some people choose not to claim such low wins because they can’t be bothered with a couple of pounds here and there.
Yet, it would take a lot of time and effort to list unclaimed small wins on the website and seek out the winners of such minimal amounts. These also aren’t reported on in the news because who finds a £2 or even £10 lottery win without a claimant all that exciting? On the other hand, someone missing out on £10 million, for example, is a whole other ball game. Finding a bigger winner is much more primary when it comes to the National Lottery.
Furthermore, there’s likely to be much more of an uproar if a player forgets they’ve bought a lottery ticket and they’ve won £10 million without being sought out, in comparison to if they’d only won £10 and weren’t aware of it. Obviously, the former of these amounts is a lot larger than the latter, and the National Lottery wants to be seen as actively seeking out the big winners. This puts both it and Camelot in a positive light with players, who are likely to want to continue buying tickets each week.
If they chose to spend time and effort on seeking out winners of small amounts, there’s the potential that players would see it simply as a waste of time. And at the end of the day, who’s really going to believe that something as big as The National Lottery would really seek out the winner of a £2 lottery ticket? In today’s world, it’s just not something that would legitimately happen.