LONDON, England – On 9 January 2016, UK National Lottery operator Camelot announced that two winning tickets would share the biggest-ever UK Lotto jackpot of £66 million.
Four days later an elated Scottish couple by the names of David & Carol Martin were awarded their share worth £33 million. When no other claimant approached them, Camelot revealed on 21 January that the second ticket had been sold in Worcester. It urged players to “check, double-check and triple-check” their tickets.
On 23 January 2016, a woman from Worcester presented herself to newsagent Mr. Natu Patel. She claimed to have purchased the £33 million ticket, but to have since washed it in a pair of jeans. Mr. Patel told the BBC “The barcode was visible, but had faded away and so had the serial number. So we secured the ticket on a piece of card, put it in a polybag and then I asked her to send it off to Camelot”.
Since then, hundreds of people from Worcester have appealed to Camelot, all claiming they bought the winning £33 million ticket, and all saying their ticket was lost or damaged.
Had the winner used a messenger service like theLotter.com, they would have been immediately notified of their win, been able to access a scanned ticket online, and have their physical ticket stored in a safe. The site has established offices in dozens of countries physically purchasing official tickets on behalf of players. In the UK it purchases official tickets for the €131m EuroMillions as well as the UK Lotto on behalf of overseas players.
Since it was founded more than a decade ago, theLotter.com has distributed more than $45 million in prizes to more than 1 million lottery winners, with recent big winners being an Iraqi man who won the American lottery late 2015 and a man from El Salvador who won the $1 million second prize in the $1.6 billion US Powerball earlier in January 2016.
Traditionally, paper tickets have been the only proof, but as millions of lotto prizes go unclaimed each year due to lost, damaged or forgotten-about tickets, one could argue it’s time for changes.