Thursday, 28 January 2016

Did you win £33 million and not realise?

James Hunt
27 . 01 . 16
In case you were unaware, the UK's National Lottery recently paid out its biggest jackpot ever after changes to the game made a prize-accumulating rollover considerably more likely to occur. When the draw was made on the 9th January 2016 there were ultimately two winning tickets, each of which was entitled to a 50% share of the £66 million jackpot fund.
The only problem? One of the two winning ticket-holders hasn't come forward.
This in itself isn't uncommon. Tickets are frequently lost, damaged, or simply forgotten about. If a major prize is unclaimed for two weeks, Camelot (the company that runs the UK National Lottery) releases the area where the winning ticket was bought to encourage people to check theirs where possible. If the prize remains unclaimed for 180 days, it is distributed to the various good causes the lottery supports, benefitting the entire country.
In this case, the two-week window passed, so Camelot released the news that it had been bought in Worcester. Immediately, Susanne Hinte came forward to claim she purchased the winning ticket, but that it was largely destroyed when it made an unexpected trip through the washing machine. Hinte's ticket visibly contains the winning numbers, but the date and barcode that would verify it as genuine (rather than one purchased AFTER the draw with the same numbers) have been destroyed.
This makes it hard to know whether she's telling the truth or not - and someone is definitely lying, because over a hundred other people have also tried to claim the prize for themselves. Camelot's operation does allow them to pin down the individual machine that a winning ticket was bought from, as well as the time, so it is potentially possible to verify a winner without the ticket itself by combining CCTV footage and machine records - something they have not yet done in Hinte's case.
A spokeswoman for Camelot has addressed the matter, stating that "With prizes of this size, it’s perfectly normal to receive lots of claims from people who genuinely think that they may have mislaid or thrown away what they believe was the winning ticket. [...] However, if we believe that somebody has intentionally attempted to defraud the National Lottery, then, just like any other company, we reserve the right to take whatever action we consider is appropriate.”