The Lotto jackpot in question is one of the biggest ever in Britain. The woman’s ticket had the winning numbers, but was missing the date.
It could either be the most expensive wash in history – or the best ever ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse.
A woman who was convinced she had bought the unclaimed £33 million ($67 million) British lottery jackpot ticket presented her ‘winning’ ticket to a newsagent in Worcester on Friday.
The only problem was that she had retrieved the ticket in question from the pocket of her jeans only after they had gone through her wash.
The woman – who asked to remain anonymous – said: “I’ve been a nervous wreck. I haven’t slept all night. Since I found it in my jeans pocket, my daughter and I have been drying it out with the hair dryer.
“You can see 2016 but not the date. This is one of only two shops I buy my tickets, and I remember coming in here the day, or the day before [the draw], because I had to buy something else.”
Unfortunately, while the ticket had the right combination of winning numbers — 26, 27, 46, 47, 52, 58 — the wash had scrubbed away the date, as well as the corresponding bar code and serial number.
And that could make a big difference to whether she is awarded the £33,035,323 prize by lottery organisers.
The middle-aged blonde woman has been a regular customer at Ambleside News, a tiny newsagents in the modest Worcester suburb of Warndon, regularly for years.
She returned there on Friday in the hope the owner Natu Patel and his wife, Hansa, who have been running the shop for the past 27 years, could help.
In scenes witnessed by journalist Lucy Bannerman, a reporter on The Times, Mr Patel examined the ticket carefully, confirmed it had the right numbers and put it in a clear plastic envelope, adding a piece of cardboard for protection.
He advised the woman to post it, via registered mail, for further investigation by UK lottery organiser Camelot.
The company advises anyone who suspects they have a winning ticket which has been lost, stolen, destroyed or, say, unintentionally damaged in the weekly wash, to submit a written claim within 30 days of the draw, with as many details about the purchase as possible.
Should there be enough evidence to convince Camelot that the claim is legitimate, the jackpot will be paid out 180 days after the draw.
If the jackpot is not claimed after 180 days, the money and interest will go towards the good causes fund.
The woman told The Times: “Now I’ve got to wait till July to find out.”
The combination of numbers in question has come up only once since the extra 10 numbers were introduced to the lottery draw in October. On January 9 two tickets matched the biggest jackpot ever of £66 million ($134 million).
The first was won by David and Carol Martin, both 54, from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, who are now enjoying their half of the record-breaking win.
Camelot will only confirm only that it was bought in Worcester. Not even the shop owners are told at this stage whether they sold the winning ticket.
Mr Patel is crossing his fingers that his loyal customer will bag the big prize.
“I do hope it’s her,” said Mr Patel, a father of two, who said he would offer to produce footage from his CCTV to Camelot to help with their inquiries.
“We’ve served this community for 27 years and we’re hoping to sell up and retire soon. What a wonderful, wonderful way to go out.”
A Camelot spokesman confirmed that it had advised Mr Patel’s customer to contact them in writing.
A Camelot source warned however: “The bigger the win, the more people we have coming forward in the genuine but misguided belief they have a valid ticket. But no date, no bar code, no serial number and the right numbers? That sounds all a little too convenient to me.”
The Telegraph, London
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