9,400,000.00 GBP (United Kingdom Pounds) = 16,294,241.80 US Dollars
National Lottery fails to find the poor punter who missed £9.4m
by STEPHEN MCGINTY
THE title of Britain's biggest loser was bestowed on a National Lottery player who failed to collect a £9.4 million prize jackpot ahead of last night's deadline.
Instead of being frittered on vintage champagne, fast cars and a palatial home or two, the money will now be distributed among the lottery's good causes.
Bought in the Doncaster area of Yorkshire, the ticket represented the largest unclaimed prize since the draw began, when the 180-day deadline for collection ticked by at 5:30 last night.
Before Christmas the National Lottery used Doncaster's local pantomime to draw attention to the fact that a multi-millionaire was in their midst.
Pantomime dames in rouge urged residents to go through their pockets and wastebins and turn over their sofas in search of the magic ticket, which was bought on 6 July, and had the numbers: 3, 12, 17, 36, 44 and 49.
But the cast of Aladdin could not conjure up a winner. As the clock ticked past 5:30pm, with no-one having presented the ticket, lottery organisers Camelot said the jackpot had become the only one of 522 to go unclaimed in 2005.
But whoever the unfortunate person is, he or she - or they, if it was a syndicate ticket - can comfort themselves with the knowledge that they are not alone. Since the lottery was launched in 1994, there have been 22 would-be millionaires who failed to claim their winnings. The largest unclaimed prize had been £7 million, for a ticket bought in Belfast in August 2004. And the sum of unclaimed prize money rose to a record £100 million last year.
The strain of knowing you are a potential winner, but unable to locate the ticket, can be extreme. When one player found he had forgotten to put on his traditional line of numbers and that they had come up, netting £2.7 million, he shot himself.
The most likely explanation for the unclaimed ticket is that the player is unaware of his or her success, having bought and discarded the ticket unchecked.
A more remote possibility, one with odds as long as hitting the jackpot itself, is that the player could have decided the huge prize would change their life too drastically. For not every lottery millionaire lives happily every after.
When Stephanie Powell won a chunky £7.2 million in 1999 she had a happy family life with partner Wayne Lawrence and their six-year-old daughter Jessica. But Mr Lawrence later walked out on her, citing the stress of her millions as his reason for leaving. As she said: "The lottery can't mend relations but it can break them."
Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational psychologist, believes, however, that the possibility of someone voluntarily passing up the chance to become a multi-millionaire is slim. "I really don't think someone decided 'this isn't for me'. It's much more likely they didn't know they had the winning ticket, or lost it."
Hunter Davies, author of Living on the Lottery, said most winners enjoy their good fortune. "From studying big winners, I have to say that the majority end up much happier than they were before they won the lottery."
Last night, a spokesman for Camelot said: "Unfortunately, I can confirm that the ticket-holder did not come forward within the deadline to claim their prize and has now sadly missed out on this substantial amount of money.
"To avoid this happening again, we would urge all National Lottery players to check their tickets on a regular basis.
"We have made numerous appeals to try to find the ticket-holder and it's a real shame they have missed out, but there is still one winner - the nation. This money will now go to the good causes, adding to the £17 billion which has funded the biggest programme of civic regeneration in the UK since the 19th century."
Cautionary tale of the couple who missed out
THE news that a lottery ticket worth £9.4 million has gone unclaimed will make Martyn and Kay Tott wince in pain. In 2001, the couple contacted the National Lottery just before the deadline to say they had bought a winning ticket worth £3,011,065. There was only one problem - they couldn't find it.
Mr Tott, from Watford, heard about the unclaimed ticket and the deadline on the news. He checked Teletext and discovered the numbers were the same ones he and his wife put on each week - 6 and 7 for their birthdays; 11 for the day they got engaged; 23 and 32 for their ages when they met; and 44, Mr Tott's grandmother's door number.
Mr Tott said: "Kay just screamed, jumped up and screamed, 'It's our numbers, it's our numbers'. But I immediately thought, 'we'll have thrown that ticket away'. I just felt numb."
Despite a frantic search, they did not find the ticket. They called Camelot to explain and the National Lottery's head of security was sent to investigate. For eight weeks, they were on tenterhooks as Camelot became increasingly convinced they had bought the ticket, but decided that, legally, their hands were tied.
The couple were told they would not receive a penny. Mr Tott said: "We were just stunned. We just sat there."
They did, however, receive a free holiday courtesy of Sir Richard Branson.