A staggering £1.4 billion of National Lottery winnings have gone unclaimed since the game began 18 years ago, new figures revealed today.
Lotto players are letting huge jackpots slip through their fingers at an average rate of £5 million every year.
The figures emerged just days after the largest-ever unclaimed prize of £63,837,543,60 from a winning EuroMillions ticket went to good causes.
All winnings which are unclaimed after an 180 day deadline go to charity – but Lottery operator Camelot is desperate to stem the flow of lost millionaires.
A spokesman said: “The vast majority of prizes are claimed within the 180 days but to avoid these unfortunate situations I would urge all National Lottery players to check their tickets on a regular basis.”
The figures – obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request – detail all unclaimed winnings since the Lotto launched in 1994.
Lost prizes have soared in recent years, with £106.3 million unclaimed between 2011 and today, compared to just £34 million in the first two years.
The highest amount of unclaimed money is 2011/2012 – taking the title from 2005/2006 when #£million was not collected.
There are currently 19 unclaimed prizes – between £55,153 and £6,392,389 – waiting to be collected.
In September 2007 a £6.9 million jackpot prize went unclaimed after a EuroMillions rollover jackpot of £90million.
A total of six British ticket-holders each pocketed a share of the huge prize haul by matching seven numbers – but one winner in Devon failed to come forward.
All money collected from unclaimed tickets is distributed to charities through the lottery’s Good Causes fund.
The figures, released by the National Lottery Commission, include all twice-weekly draws, lottery scratchcards, online games and the Euromillions draw.
A spokesperson for Camelot said the recent missed £63m prize in Stevenage, Herts., will add to the #29billion already generated for good causes since the Lotto was launched.
“We tried very hard to find the ticket-holder, with lots of awareness-raising activity over the past 180 days, and it’s a real shame that they have missed out, but there is still one winner – the nation.
“This money, and all the interest earned over the 180 days, will now go to the National Lottery Good Causes – adding to the #29 billion already raised and distributed to over 390,000 individual awards that have benefitted people, communities and projects across the UK.”