what happens to unclaimed lottery winnings

How to find a missing winner

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Most big prizes get claimed immediately but amazingly a few don’t. Whether you win £25 or £25 million, our aim is to get the cash into your bank account as quickly as possible. Luckily, most players check their tickets, or get a message in their inbox, and claim their winnings in a flash. Every now and then, we have a prize which needs a helping hand to be claimed. Discover how we work to pair a prize with its long-lost winner…

How long have I got?

Every player has 180 days from the day of the draw to claim their prize. So, for the five £1M winners from the special Lotto draw on 10th October 2015, the player needs to come forward with the ticket in hand before the clock ticks past midnight on Thursday 7th April 2016.

How soon after the draw do you try and find the winner?

The details of unclaimed prizes are released around two weeks after the draw. This gives a reasonable amount of time after the draw for players to have had a chance to check their tickets. It also allows time for a potential winner, who thinks they may have lost their ticket, to get in touch with us – they need to do this in writing before the 30th day after the draw.

How do you try to find the winner?

We do a variety of things to try and get people talking about the prize, which will hopefully prompt the winner to check their ticket. The media are always keen to talk about local winners and they love to try and help reunite one of their readers, listeners or viewers with their cash.

We plan stunts, use local celebrities or sports teams to talk about the prize and arrange interviews with the media, all designed to build a buzz and get people talking about the unclaimed cash.

The prize details are shared on Facebook and Twitter which is a great way to reach lots of people directly. Also, details of all the largest unclaimed prizes unclaimed prizes are also always available on the National Lottery website.

Q: Why don’t you say which shop the ticket was purchased in?

When releasing details of an unclaimed prize, we have to balance raising awareness of the prize with every player’s right to remain anonymous. We identify an area of around 100,000 people and have found that this gets people talking about the prize, but doesn’t mean the winner feels they have to share their news after their claim.

The majority of lottery winners don’t choose to go public when they claim their prize. If we had released details of the shop the winning ticket was bought in, then the likelihood of being able to identify the winner, possibly against their wishes, dramatically increases.

If it isn’t claimed where does the money go?

If no one comes forward in the 180 days then the prize money, plus all the interest it has generated while it is held in trust, goes to National Lottery-funded projects across the UK. Our players change the lives of individuals as well as communities by raising, on average, over £34 million for National Lottery-funded projects every week.

The National Lottery has been changing the lives of winners and supporting good causes across the UK since 1994. In that time, there have been more than 5,900 new millionaires created and by playing The National Lottery you raise £30 M Million for good causes every week.

A Lotto player in the Districts of South Northamptonshire & Daventry has matched all six numbers on 7 February and the ticket is worth £2.5M ]]>