Unclaimed National Lottery tickets and what happens to the money

Winnings from unclaimed National Lottery tickets don’t go to waste – but wouldn’t you rather the money you’ve won ends up in your bank account?

It’s a hard yes from us!

In the UK it was calculated that, in 2018, no less than £125 million in prizes won from lotteries and scratch cards remained unclaimed.

The States have an even more eye-watering total, with £2.5 billion of lottery winnings unclaimed.

So where does the money from unclaimed National Lottery tickets go? How long do you have to claim it? And what’s the biggest amount Brits have missed out on over the years?

Prepare yourself, it’s a HUGE jackpot!

Lottery balls spinning round
Have you numbers come up and you haven’t claimed yet? (Credit: Pexels)

UK’s largest unclaimed National Lottery ticket

Back in 2012, the largest unclaimed EuroMillions prize won by a UK ticket holder made headlines.

One lucky person bought the ticket in Herfordshire and it ended up winning £64m.

However, while the joint jackpot winner from Belgium came forward, believe it or not, the Brit didn’t.

Billboards were erected and appeals were made to locate the winner before the six-month deadline to claim passed.

However, no one came forward.

This meant that after 180 days the whopping £64m prize became the largest unclaimed EuroMillions prize ever in the UK.

The ticket holder’s identity still remains a mystery to this very day – they’ll be kicking themselves if they find it down the back of the sofa in years to come!

Person filling out lottery ticket with a pen
Millions of pounds are unclaimed every year on the National Lottery (Credit: Cover Images)

Unclaimed prizes detailed on National Lottery website

There’s a list of unclaimed prizes featured on the National Lottery website.

Bosses are currently searching for a Lotto winner from Wolverhampton who won £7.4m back in June.

Time is running out to claim the prize – they have till December 15 otherwise they’ll miss out.

There are also numerous EuroMillions UK Millionaire Matchmaker prizes listed. These are worth a cool £1m.

There’s also a Set For Life prize unclaimed.

The £10,000 a month for a year prize is up for grabs after a ticket was bought in Cardiff back in April.

Stack of £20 notes
The money is given to good causes if unclaimed for 180 days (Credit: Pexels)

How long can lottery tickets go unclaimed? What happens if a lottery ticket is unclaimed?

Prizes have to be claimed within 180 days of the lottery draw taking place.

If no one comes forward after the six months, that’s their lot, time’s up – and there’s no deviating from those rules.

So what happens to the unclaimed prizes?

Well, it doesn’t go to waste isn’t shared out among bigwigs.

Instead, the prize money and any interest earned on it benefits National Lottery-funded projects across the UK.

So, even if the money isn’t changing the winners’ lives, it’s helping someone, somewhere.

In fact, on average, the National Lottery gives over £34m per week to its charitable projects.

Read more: What happened to the National Lottery Live show and who presented it?

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