Each and every week millions of us sit with our Lotto and Thunderball tickets in hand hoping to win big. The eye-watering jackpots on offer during every draw is enough to seriously change lives, making more new millionaires around the country than any other game.
Using this guide, you can find out how to play the biggest national lotteries in the UK, as well as how to watch the draw live online, so you can find out quickly whether or not you have a golden ticket – and in the process become the newest member of the millionaires club.
How to Watch the UK Lotto Draw Live on TV
Back in the day, the UK National Lottery draw could be seen live on free to air via the BBC, with a couple of hours of family prime-time TV presented by Noel Edmonds in the lead-up. These days people are less concerned about the laughs and more about the numbers, meaning you can only stream the draw live online at the UK National Lottery Youtube channel. National Lottery draws (Lotto) take place every Saturday (7.45 pm) and Wednesday (8.00 pm). Thunderball draws can be viewed on Tuesdays (8.15 pm), Wednesdays (8.15 pm), Fridays (8.15 pm) and Saturdays (8.15 pm).
The other option should you not have access to the internet, would be to watch your local news channels for Lotto and Thunderball free to air TV draw announcements on the dates above.
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History of the UK National Lottery and Thunderball
Lottery mania never hit the British Isles until November 1994, when seven winners shared the first-ever jackpot of £5 million. Since then fans of the format have grown and grown, culminating in the biggest ever jackpot win in 2011, when a staggering £66 million was won by a very lucky couple in Scotland and a third anonymous winner.
Shortly after the National Lottery came the introduction of the Thunderball format, in 1999. The concept behind this draw was to give a wider spread of players a better chance of winning big, with top prizes never exceeding £250,000. These two formats are now ingrained into British culture, so much so that there are six draws a week, meaning there’s literally never been more opportunities to win a hefty chunk of cash.
UK Lotto and Thunderball Jackpot totals
The National Lottery, more fondly known as the Lotto, has thrown up some mouth-watering jackpots over the years, forcing even those who don’t usually play to take a flutter, dreaming of a big win.
The biggest total of £66 million was won in 2016, but the biggest single win stands at £33.5 million, a jackpot won by a married couple from Peterborough. Several other draws over the years have hit prizes well in excess of £30 million, and it remains the most popular national lottery draw in the UK.
How to play the UK Lotto and Thunderball
Playing the National Lottery and Thunderball has never been easier, with the option to buy tickets anywhere from supermarkets and newsagents to the official lottery website and smartphone app.
Lotto tickets cost £2. To play, you’ll need to choose six numbers and a bonus ball number from 1-59. You can either choose the numbers yourself or ask for a lucky dip (randomly chosen numbers). To win the overall jackpot, the first six numbers on your ticket need to match the first six numbers drawn. Smaller jackpots can be won by matching two to five numbers with the bonus ball. If you want to check your eligibility for a prize, simply take your ticket to an official sales outlet who will check the numbers for you and payout smaller sums. If you have an online account or app, winnings are debited directly to your account, so you won’t even need to check!
Thunderball costs £1 and requires you to choose five numbers from 1-39, plus a Thunderball number from 1-14. Like the main Lotto, you can choose these yourself or opt for a lucky dip. To win the top prize of £250,000 you will need to match all five numbers plus the Thunderball. Smaller prizes are available for lesser amounts of correct numbers. Claims work exactly the same as the Lotto draw, as they are both ran by the same company.
If you have one a jackpot prize and your ticket matches all the numbers that have been drawn, you must call one of the following National Lottery Service lines.
For jackpot tickets purchased in-store – call 0333 234 50 50
For jackpot tickets purchased online – call 0333 234 44 33