Lotto hopefuls have been warned against leaving online ticket purchases for Saturday’s record jackpot draw to the last minute after the national lottery website crashed amid huge demand.
Britain’s largest ever Lotto jackpot – £57.8m – is the result of 14 successive rollovers after Wednesday’s draw again failed to provide a winner. And due to a rule change, the cash will not roll over again.
The website crashed on Wednesday, when the jackpot stood at £50m, as punters rushed to buy tickets online, which prompted Camelot, the company behind the gambling game, to warn customers not to wait to the last minute. The £2 tickets are on sale until 7.30pm on Saturday.
A Camelot spokesman said: “[The website] was phenomenally busy, so we would advise players to buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment. We expect the draw to be one of the most popular ever. There has been an unprecedented amount of excitement because some people are going to be considerably richer.”
In June 2015, Camelot added another 10 numbers for players to choose from – 50 to 59 – that slashed the odds on anyone getting all six numbers on their ticket from about one in 14 million to one in 45 million.
But a new Lotto jackpot cap of £50m means that there will be not be a 15th rollover. If there is no winning ticket on Saturday, the prize will trickle down to the next tier of winners: those who have five numbers and the bonus ball. If that produces no winners the money will go to those with five numbers, then four numbers, and so on, until the prize fund is drained.
To put this in context, on Wednesday just two tickets matched five numbers and the bonus ball and won £74,900 each. If the same happened on Saturday, they would each get £28.9m.
Saturday’s prize eclipses the previous highest jackpot of £42m shared by three winners in 1996. An individual with a ticket matching all six numbers on Saturday night would have won a fortune rivalling that of the singer Adele, who is worth £50m according to the Sunday Times rich list.
The previous jackpot record was £42m, which was shared between three ticket-holders in January 1996. The biggest UK Lotto win was in 1995 when colleagues Mark Gardiner and Paul Maddison shared £22.5m. The biggest single winner was Iris Jeffrey from Belfast, who scooped £20.1m in 2004.
However, the UK’s biggest cash winners participated in EuroMillions, the Europe-wide lottery, whose jackpot on Friday is predicted to be £44m.
Top five winners
Colin and Chris Weir
The married couple from Largs, Ayrshire, top the list of UK lottery winners after banking £161m jackpot in the EuroMillions in 2011. Colin Weir, who worked as a TV cameraman and studio manager for 23 years, and Chris, a former psychiatric nurse, celebrated with a normal night in front of the television. They went on to become the biggest donors to Scotland’s pro-independence campaign, giving more than £3.5m.
Adrian and Gillian Bayford
The Bayfords, from Haverhill in Suffolk, banked £148m in 2012 on the EuroMillions. Adrian, a music shop owner, and Gillian, a healthcare assistant, celebrated by having Domino’s pizza for tea. The couple moved into a £6m mansion in Cambridgeshire but less than two years after the giant windfall they split, citing the pressure from their new fortune as the force behind the divorce.
The third biggest winner in the UK won £113m in 2010 on the EuroMillions but opted to keep their identity secret. And, whomever they were, they took 12 days to come forward.
Fourth on the list is Neil Trotter, who pocketed a £107.9m EuroMillions jackpot in 2014. A car mechanic and motor racing enthusiast from southLondon, Trotter, who ran a repair garage called Chameleon Coachworks, said he planned to trade in his oil-stained Ford Focus for a fleet of supercars.
Dave and Angela Dawes
Finnaly, Dave and Angela Dawes, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, scooped £101m in the EuroMillions draw in 2011 after only playing twice before. Dave, a shift supervisor for Premier Foods, and Angela, a volunteer for the British Heart Foundation, pledged to give their friends £1m each.