Lottery winner loses out on £9m

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The Independent Online

A National Lottery windfall of more than £9m was instead diverted to charities last night after a jackpot winner failed to collect his prize on time.

The 180-day limit for claiming the £9,476,995 jackpot prize expired at 5.30pm yesterday, forcing the organisers, Camelot, to donate the money to their Good Causes fund. The ticket with the winning numbers 3, 12, 17, 36, 44 and 49 was bought for the Lotto draw on 6 July in the Doncaster area of South Yorkshire. Despite Camelot's best efforts to alert residents in the area, they were unable to trace the mystery winner.

The £9.4m win was the largest sum to go unclaimed in the draw's history, although the unfortunate loser is not the only would-be millionaire to miss out on a fortune. Since the Lottery began, 22 would-be millionaires have lost their prizes. Northumberland and Hull have seen two £1m-plus prizes go unclaimed, while a desperate punter who tried to claim a £4m win 35 minutes before deadline lost out when he could not produce a ticket.

"This was a huge amount of money and could have changed someone's life forever," said a spokesman for Camelot. "Right up to the last minute we were hopeful that maybe somebody looking down the back of the sofa, checking the pockets of their summer clothing or digging deep down the bottom of drawers would find the ticket and come forward before the 5.30pm deadline."

Under the rules, prizes must be claimed within 180 days of the draw date or the money and any interest accrued go to good causes.

More than £17bn has been raised for good causes by the National Lottery, £100m of which went unclaimed last year alone. Since it began in 1994, it has given away £25.9bn in prizes and created more than 1,800 millionaires or multimillionaires, 125 of them in 2005.

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