Lottery prizes fail to hit the jackpot

Most of the prizes in Saturday's National Lottery were only a half or third as big as predicted, the organisers, Camelot, admitted yesterday.

As five of the seven jackpot winners came forward to claim pounds 839,254 each, it emerged that middle-level winners would get far less than they had been promised because so many people had won the guaranteed pounds 10 prize for matching three out of six numbers.

Under the prize system, only when the pounds 10 winners have been paid off can the remainder of last week's pounds 22m prize pool be divided up among the rest according to fixed percentages. Because a million people won pounds 10 - far more than expected - the larger winners have in effect subsidised them.

The 39 people who matched five numbers and the bonus number will get pounds 46,349 each - less than half the pounds 100,000 Camelot predicted. The 2,139 who matched five numbers will get just over a third of the pounds 1,500 promised, and the 76,731 who matched four will get pounds 32, half the estimated pounds 65. It also means viewers watching the draw on The National Lottery Live on BBC 1 were misled about the jackpot. Camelot said it was pounds 6.9m, but it later emerged that it was pounds 5.87m.

It is thought the reason so many people won pounds 10 was because they picked numbers relating to birthdays: the winning combination contained five numbers below 32.

Yesterday, the five jackpot winners were interviewed by Camelot to establish whether they wished to be identified. The are understood to be four men and a woman. One was reported to be a 64-year-old retired airline engineer from west London. If they agree to publicity, their names will be announced today or tomorrow after their tickets have been verified at one of the 10 regional lottery centres. But the race was on yesterday to find them, willing or not - with a pounds 5,000 reward offered by the Sun to anyone who would shop them.

In all there were 1,150,000 winners and about 49,000,000 tickets bought for last week's draw. The winning numbers were 3, 5, 14, 22, 30 and 44, with a bonus number of 10.

But to the satisfaction of the football pools operators, there was no multi-millionaire. That person will be created by Littlewoods when it awards an expected pounds 1m-plus payout to the next pools winner.

A spokesman said the pools jackpot was forecast after Saturday's football matches produced seven 1-1 draws and one higher-scoring draw.

The winning lottery numbers were announced live on BBC 1 just before 8pm. The hour-long National Lottery Live show drew the biggest Saturday night audience insiders could remember - 21,700,000 people at its peak. The figure means that ITV lost the ratings war, despite running Blind Date in direct opposition, followed by Diana: Portrait of a Princess. Both won less than 8,000,000 viewers.

Lottery fever had abated yesterday, but not enough for a newborn baby to escape being named Lotty after being found abandoned in a carrier bag outside Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham.

The baby was born on Saturday, the day of the first lottery draw. West Midlands police are appealing for anyone who may know the infant to contact them.

Leading article, letter, page 15

Lottery fever, page 21