With £115 million up for grabs tonight, what happens next if you win?

Local Lottery millionaires, ‘The Catering Girls’, won £25,476,778.30 on a EuroMillions ticket in November 2018.

There’s a whopping £115M jackpot up for grabs with Friday’s special EuroMillions Super Jackpot Event draw, but how would you go about claiming your millions and getting your hands on your prized giant cheque?  

We caught up with Camelot’s Andy Carter, Senior Winners’ Advisor at The National Lottery, about what it’s like to win, the support available, people’s reactions and paying out an eye-watering £2 billion throughout his career!

Pictured: Andy Carter

Andy, 46, has worked at The National Lottery for nearly 14 years and travels across Wales and the South West of England to pay out millions of pounds in winnings. As well as the all-important task of validating winning tickets and holding the hands of new winners as they go through the process and beyond, Andy has been part of that life-changing moment and seen first-hand every possible reaction and emotion.

How much do you enjoy your job? It sounds like a great job!

It is a great job to be able to give such good, and seriously life-changing news. I have seen people cry, jump around, break down in tears and pretty much everything in between. As you can imagine, it is a very emotional time to hear you have won hundreds of thousands, or even hundreds of millions of pounds! I have paid out close to £2billion over the years – and last year alone I handed out around £300million!

So, if a lucky Welsh ticket-holder were to win this Friday’s £115M EuroMillions jackpot, what’s the first thing they should do? What happens after that?

It is a lot easier than you might think. If you’ve won, firstly sign the back of your ticket and then you need to call the National Lottery Line (the number is on the back of your ticket) and claim – you  have 180 days from the date of the draw to do so.

After that’s done, is where I step in. I will call the ticket-holder back and, in normal times, arrange a time to visit, usually at home, and I will go through the validation process with them. During lockdown, we’ve adapted to be able to do a lot of the process via video calls but we still have to collect winning tickets ourselves on the same day as we’ve called them

They are pushing the tickets through the letterbox, leaving it outside under a gnome or ornament, or waving it outside the window – it is most unusual!

I like getting out to people’s houses – some winners have had some unique places where they have kept their winning tickets safe. One winner hid their ticket in a snake tank! They even asked me to grab the ticket, but I said, ‘No chance.’

During the crisis we’ve seen a shift to playing more online via the website or the National Lottery App, where there’s no need to socially distance, and your results are checked for you.

Once the ticket has been fully validated, the money is paid into a winner’s bank, usually within 48 hours. This is when we usually talk to winners about if they want to go public with their win or if they want to remain anonymous. 

And once the money has been paid out, is that it?

No, we want to make sure our winners are supported throughout the whole process – from start to end, basically as long as a winner needs or wants us to be with them we will be. We will put our winners in touch with legal and financial advisors, even life coaches and a host of other specialists. Whatever concerns they have, we will always try and help them. I’m still in regular contact and helping out winners who won many years ago.

We also have winner events and like to connect new and old winners, after all the long time winners are the only people who really know what new winners are going through. Past winners are the perfect people to give advice as they have experienced those incredible emotions and can pass on their wisdom. There is a network of winners who meet up regularly and it has become quite a sociable thing for many of them.

Have you noticed a difference in how people are spending their winnings now with Covid-19 and the lockdown?

We’ve paid out a staggering prize pot of more than £1/4 Billion to more than 200 high tier winners during the Covid-19 crisis.

 Everyone plays the “What I would do if I won the lottery?” game and you can guess it is usually travelling the world, making extravagant purchases or opening a business, but the reality is quite different.

When it comes to it, they know that they have the chance to change people’s lives and while some do make a big purchase here and there, the majority usually go on to simply help others. People write a cheque; it is an easy thing to do. I have seen them giving £30,000, £40,000, £50,000 because they can.

I think times like these make people stop and think what is really important and what they could do if they were to win the jackpot. It is amazing to see the generosity of some people and I think is one of the best parts of my job.

Our most recent survey indicated that more potential winners are interested in getting back to basics and are naturally craving more time with their nearest and dearest; starting a vegetable plot, redesigning the garden orlearning how to cook. They want to keep family safe; have less stress and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. It’s the new normal Bucket List.

As The National Lottery is about Good Causes as much as winners, is National Lottery money being used to help during the crisis?

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600M is being used to support the most vulnerable in communities across the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. Hundreds of millions of pounds is being distributed to charities and local voluntary organisations over the next few months to help support people through the Covid-19 crisis – from helping support food banks, to causes that combat loneliness and isolation, support for the elderly and projects that support health in the community.

With winners in Wales including Les Scadding from Newport, who won £45M on EuroMillions in 2009 and the five member Davies family syndicate from Monmouth, who scooped a whopping £61M EuroMillions Jackpot in 2016; it could be someone in Wales who gets a call from Andy after Friday’s massive EuroMillions draw….fingers crossed!’

Rhys Gregory
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