As Stevenage fails to find £64m jackpot winner, what happens to unclaimed lottery prizes?

Chris Parsons

When the clock hit 11pm in Stevenage last night without a new Lottery millionaire, the residents of the sleepy Hertfordshire town let a £64m prize slip through their fingers.

Thousands in the town frantically searched coat pockets and drawers in hope of finding the ticket, which is the highest lottery prize ever to go unclaimed in this country.

The mammoth lottery win of £63,837,543.60 is almost three times bigger than the next three largest sums combined.

The missing ticket holder in Hertfordshire matched all five numbers - 5, 11, 22, 34 and 40 - and the Lucky Star numbers - 9 and 11.

A Lottery official confirmed last night that one unfortunate punter had missed out on the 'staggering' amount of money.

Currently, National Lottery prizes that go unclaimed after 180 days (around six months) go to the National Lottery Good Causes scheme.

The same goes for interest accrued on unclaimed prizes - a figure currently standing at £645,000 for the Stevenage jackpot.

The Good Causes cash is distributed by 13 independent organisations, including the likes of Sport England, Arts Council and the Olympic Lottery Distribution Organisation, to deserving projects and initiatives nationwide.

And while the monster jackpot in Hertfordshire is currently claiming the headlines, there is still around £2m in National Lottery prizes unclaimed every week.

In the UK alone on top of the £64m jackpot, there is £15,084,539.80 in unclaimed winnings in the last six months across all the National Lottery's games.

A quick glance at the unclaimed tickets section of the National Lottery's website shows that there are dozens of potential prize-winners out there who haven't cashed in their tickets.

There are eight seven-figure unclaimed prizes currently up for grabs in the UK, on top of the mammoth £64m.

Prizes on the Euromillions Millionaires Raffle of exactly £1,000,000 have yet to be claimed in Basildon, Bedford, the Wirral, Hodge Hill (Birmingham), South Tyrone, Newham (London) and Swindon.

Meanwhile a £6,392,389 Lotto jackpot has been unclaimed in Anglesey & Gwynedd since September 8. By March 7 next year they too will have missed out.

Seven more six-figure lottery prizes are also currently unclaimed, including a £500,000 jackpot ticket bought in Haringey, north London, last month.

Many of the unclaimed winning tickets are eventually snapped up, however, although sometimes it takes months for winners to come forward.

Three months ago the owner of a £4.4m jackpot ticket in County Down came forward to, ending three months of frantic searching in the area.

Others have cut it a lot finer in claiming the life-changing sum; in 2009, an anonymous Lotto winner claimed a £2.5m jackpot just before the 180-day deadline.

The missing jackpot in Stevenage is comfortably the biggest ever unclaimed lottery prize, dwarfing the next largest sums which weren't claimed.

In July 2005, a £9.4m prize went unclaimed in Doncaster, and two years later a £7m jackpot went missing.
The fourth highest unclaimed ticket was bought in the Devon area in September 2007, and was worth £6.9m.

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