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Lottery Winners Who Lost: The Stories Behind Some of the Biggest Unclaimed Jackpots

27th February 2020

For the average person, there’s surely no bigger thrill than winning big on the lottery. Scooping a jackpot of more than a million pounds would change most people’s lives, allowing them to quit their job and enjoy a dream lifestyle for the rest of their days.


Many pick up a ticket in the hopes of winning big, while some of the smaller prizes on offer are equally attractive to a lot of players. The odds of winning the main prize are usually fairly long - but you stand a better chance of scooping one of the smaller cash amounts.

There once was a time when checking the numbers was a fairly manual process. You’d tune into the draw to watch the numbers being revealed live, check the newspapers or head down to the shop where you bought your ticket.

These days, it’s much easier. You can access the results of pretty much any draw with a just a few clicks or taps, while many lottery apps offer a free results checker service that instantly notifies you if you are a winner.

But despite the increased technological convenience of checking numbers, many prizes still go unclaimed. Life-changing amounts have unwittingly been scooped by players who are seemingly unable to check their numbers - or who have even just forgotten they have a ticket! 

As a result, millions in lottery winnings have gone unclaimed around the world. 


£41m – Dorset, UK

Around Christmas last year, a massive £41m was won by a lottery ticket buyer, but the prize has gone unclaimed ever since. The EuroMillions game is played by citizens of nine different European countries, which means the jackpot is usually relatively large.

But by the time the deadline had passed, the National Lottery said that it had not received any claims, even though players even have the opportunity to claim in writing if they suspect their ticket has been lost, destroyed or stolen.


$68m – New York, USA

Although the previous example was very recent, players missing out on a jackpot is not a new thing, as a Lottoland blog article explains. In fact, in 2002, a ticket that was effectively worth $68m went unclaimed in the New York area. This draw also happened around the festive period, which perhaps suggests that tickets bought as gifts for others are more likely to go missing.

Nearly 20 years on, the mystery of the big winner remains unsolved, which means the winning ticket for the Mega Millions could theoretically still be out there, although the deadline for claiming the prize has sadly long since expired.


€17m – County Mayo, Ireland

Another more recent lottery mystery is unfolding in County Mayo, Ireland, where a jackpot of €17m remains unclaimed more than two weeks later. The official lottery website shows that the winner purchased their ticket in the Mayo area.

The winner still has until 11th May to collect their winnings, after winning the jackpot in the Match 5 draw, including two lucky stars. The Irish Lottery says that prizes worth in excess of €10m go unclaimed and expire every year.


These are just three examples of big money prizes going unclaimed. In fact, estimates suggest that upwards of £125m is uncollected in the UK each year so, if you have a ticket you’re yet to check, it might just be worth digging it out from your coat pocket or purse! 

Posted by Mark at 4:04pm

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