Residents of Hitchin conduct frantic last-minute search for largest ever unclaimed National Lottery winning ticket

 

Lost: one lottery ticket, somewhere in the Stevenage area. Value: until last night, around £64m.

Residents of the normally quiet, suburban Hertfordshire town - as well as neighbouring Hitchin - were conducting frantic last minute searches for the winning ticket to the largest ever unclaimed Lottery jackpot last night. The ticket, which was bought in the area, has gone missing and now the huge £63,837,543.46 jackpot has gone with it.

“I am sure it was mine,” said 32-year-old landscaper Pete James today. “I lost the ticket I bought near Hitchin. I bought a few and they were in my van but they all got cleaned out before I could check them. I looked for a while but they’ve been chucked away,” he said.

Mr James, who was waiting for a trim in a local barber shop, added: “I also had a few in the pockets of my work jeans which went into the wash. With £64m, I would go somewhere where there is hot weather and glamorous women. I might put a bit of it away of course, there’s only so much you can spend on hot weather and glamorous women.”

Down the road in Stevenage’s picturesque Old Town, staff in one shop said they had heard lots of stories from customers who thought they were the winners. “A million people have ‘lost their tickets’ all of a sudden,” said 22-year-old Alan Edwards. But none found the ticket.

The town’s newsagents are plastered with posters asking: “Are you missing £63.8m” and the owners said they had seen floods of people coming in to check whether theirs was the winner. There were even stories in the town that some were so sure it was hidden down the back of the proverbial sofa that they hired people to come into their house to try to find it.

In order to protect the anonymity of an eventual winner, Lottery operator Camelot is barred from identifying the exact shop the winning Euromillions ticket was bought in, despite the relative ease with which it could have solved the mystery of the missing ticket. In place of any concrete information, came rumour and intrigue.

Staff at the Red Lion pub said that customers have been in talking about the fabled missing ticket for some time. Their theories range from the winner dying to having used the ticket as a filter for a cigarette. “Most expensive cigarette ever”, said one drinker.

Barmaid Anna Cavallo, 24, said she had received text messages from family members reminding her to check her purse But, she was not the winner. “I wish I had it hidden behind the bar,” she said when one colleague offered to “go halves”. Her colleague Ryan Perrin, 21, said he was going to go rooting through the bins as the deadline drew closer.

Local gossip identified the Choc Box newsagent in Stevenage as the source of the winning ticket. “You can’t believe everything you hear,” said 49-year-old Umesh Sacharia, who runs it. He added: “We have had all sorts of stories from people who said they lost their ticket, people coming back in to see if they left it here.”

Tickets are valid for six months after the date of the draw and, if unclaimed, the money is passed from Camelot to 13 Lottery distribution bodies. Camelot said that the money, plus the interest it has earned whilst being held in trust, will be given to charities and other good causes. The bodies choose projects to allocate money to from those which send in applications.

But there is a movement to keep the money within the Stevenage area. Members of a Facebook group say that, since Camelot can tell that it was bought in the area, the money should be given to local causes and charities.

After the months of searching, it is unlikely the holder of the winning ticket will now want to find it. To paraphrase the poster that was driven around the area on vans: “It could have been you”.

Could it be you? Other unclaimed lottery tickets

The huge Hertfordshire jackpot was not the only one due to expire last night. A Monmouthshire winner from the same day in June worth £100,000 was also listed as still unclaimed. A £6.4m jackpot is also yet to be claimed by a winner who bought the ticket in Anglesey. The deadline is next March.

A Watford man lost out on more than £3m in 2001 when he waited too long to claim his winnings. Martyn Tott took his case to court when Camelot refused to pay but he lost and never received a penny.

The previous largest unclaimed jackpot was £9.4m, which no-one came forward to collect after the ticket was bought in Doncaster in 2005.

Last year, a $77m (£47m) jackpot went unclaimed when a US Lottery player, who bought their ticket in Georgia failed to come forward and claim the prize.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week