There are few events that change lives more than winning the lottery. The sums of money that people can take home just a few hours after matching a series of numbers is nothing short of staggering.
The amount you can win for lotteries in the UK will range between organisers and even how busy they have been from one week to the next, and there are some that are capped as well. In fact, there are some interesting rules about how each of them works, and as a player it’s important to be aware of this.
There are a core group of lotteries in the UK that include the EuroMillions, National Lottery (Lotto), and Thunderball, and then you’ve also got scratchcards which work in the same way. Throughout this article we will be looking at them all individually, noting some of the biggest wins from each and important rules that you need to be aware of.
EuroMillions: Up to £160 Million
The EuroMillions is probably the biggest lottery in the UK, down to the fact that it is played all over Europe. There are many lottery governing bodies involved depending on where you play, but in the UK it is run by Camelot, just like the other lotteries on this page.
The tickets are the most expensive of all lotteries in this country, priced at £2.50 per line. Players need to get 5 main numbers right, plus 2 lucky numbers to win the jackpot on offer.
The jackpot is actually capped at €190 million for the EuroMillions, and the number of times the jackpot can roll over before reaching this cap is unlimited, but it doesn’t usually take longer than about 6 weeks.
Once the cap is hit, the jackpot money will go to the player with the ticket closest to the full winning combination. That is usually 5 main numbers, plus 1 lucky star. It can keep dropping to other smaller combinations a maximum of 4 times before the jackpot is spread amongst all ticket holders with even lower combinations.
The EuroMillions also has a number of other games that run alongside the main draw. With each draw they also offer millionaire tickets included in the price of the original ticket, where matching a series of random numbers and letters creates at least 1 millionaire each week. On top of that they include prize giveaways, like holidays, technology and even lifestyle prizes, such as spa days and driving experiences.
Biggest EuroMillions Winner
Colin and Chris Weir from North Ayrshire, Scotland are the biggest EuroMillions winners in history. Their collection of numbers bagged them an incredible £161 million in 2012 and they have since gone on to put that money to good use, setting up their own trust to give money to those who need it most. Sadly, the generous couple split up a few months before Colin died, in 2019.
The National Lottery (Lotto): Normally £5-£15 Million
The National Lottery has changed quite a lot in recent years, and even though there has been some backlash due to the individual chances of winning decreasing, the reality is that you could still win life changing sums of money for a very small investment.
Speaking of investment, Lotto will take place twice a week on a Wednesday and Saturday evening, with each line costing just £2 a go. The jackpots are won by getting all 6 of the main draw number correct.
Jackpot totals are based on the number of people who have played and also the number of times the competition has rolled over. The greater the number of tickets sold and the more times the lottery has rolled over since it last paid out, the higher the jackpot will be.
The rest of the number combinations, unlike the EuroMillions, are all fixed price wins, so you know exactly what you are playing for each week. They work like this:
- 6 numbers = Jackpot
- 5 numbers plus bonus ball = £1 million
- 5 numbers = £1,750
- 4 numbers = £140
- 3 numbers = £30
- 2 numbers = Free lucky dip ticket for next draw
The only way that these numbers will change is if there is no jackpot winner after 6 consecutive draws. If this is the case then the jackpot will be split between all winning combinations, meaning that everyone gets a small piece of the pie; an example might be that you get £100 for matching just 3 numbers – but 2 numbers will still get a lucky dip ticket.
Biggest National Lottery (Lotto) winner
The biggest ever Lotto win recorded was £35.1 million, and this occurred back in April of 2016. Frustratingly though, the winner chose to remain annonymous. It’s fair enough and totally understandable, but annoying for nosy parkers like us!
This record win actually came just 3 months after another record breaking win, which itself had broken a 21 year record. This was a £66 million win split between two tickets, so each winner received £33 million each. One of them remained anonymous but the other winners, David and Carol Martin from the Scottish Borders, were more than happy to share their good news.
The first person they told was their daughter, who was living in Australia at the time, and the first money they spent was on a first class plane ticket to get her home for a visit.
Thunderball: £500k Fixed Jackpot
Thunderball is a bit of an extension to the main Lotto game, but it includes many of the same principles. The biggest change is that you’re picking 5 numbers from a total of 39 balls, plus 1 Thunderball from a total of 14 balls.
The payouts for the game are fixed each week and the maximum that you can win is £500,000. The winning combination is made up of 5 main numbers plus the Thunderball. You can get paid for as little as just matching the Thunderball and zero main numbers, so whilst the numbers are smaller, the chances of winning something are actually higher than that of the main Lotto draw.
Games start from just £1 per line and run every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Biggest Thunderball Winner
Since the Thunderball offers a fixed jackpot of £500,000 there is no ‘biggest winner’, because every winner has won the same amount, so they are all the biggest winners.
It runs 4 times a week though so that is £2 million paid out every 7 days!
You will notice that pretty much all licensed Lottery retailers will sell a number of scratchcards at the same kiosk. These games are usually smaller than the main lottery game but can still offer life changing sums of money if you hit the jackpot.
The games are pretty simple; you just scratch off the foil to reveal a series of numbers or symbols and if they match a certain combination, then you win.
For prizes under £500 then you are likely going to be able to claim the amount from the retailer that you bought your scratchcard from. For sums over that amount you will need to contact Camelot to arrange payment. Any jackpot prizes that are £50,000 or more will need to be claimed in person, either at your home or at any of Camelot’s head offices throughout the UK.
Given that you can only win a certain number of jackpots, retailers are able to keep selling any scratchcards that are on display even if no jackpots remain, but once these cards have been sold they cannot sell any new cards for that same game.
The National Lottery actually publish on their website the number of jackpots that have been won for each game, so if you are looking to play the scratchcards then it’s well worth checking this out first to make sure that you choose the game with the most jackpots left and therefore the best chance of winning one.
Biggest Scratchcard Winner
Amadou Gillen has the record for the biggest scratchcard win in the UK. The former Weatherspoon’s bar staff worker won a massive £4 million from a single ticket back in 2016 during a 12-hour shift at the pub. Amazingly, he finished his shift and even completed his rota for the week, before quitting and telling his family.