€16 million (US$17.5 million) of the lottery winnings stayed unclaimed in Ireland for a while. The largest unattended lottery winning on record was for a €4.3 million lottery jackpot, dating back to 2001. The lottery ticket was purchased in Coolock in Dublin, and despite all efforts to find the lottery winner, no one stepped forward. A more recent winning worth just under €3 million that was purchased in Mayo in 2014 was unclaimed as well.
Presently, lottery rules give players 90 days to claim the prize. After this period, lottery winners lose their right to request the money, and the lottery operator can then use the prizes for marketing campaigns to promote lottery games. Jackpots can be topped up too. The unclaimed lottery winnings have turned a valuable income stream for the Irish lottery operator, adding up to about €16 million per annum- 2% of annual revenue.
With the unprecedented spread of the lethal disease, Irish lottery officials decided to use the unclaimed winnings to help doctors battle coronavirus. The lottery winnings will make its way towards the frontline as Ireland ramps-up its response to coronavirus. They will support the country's efforts now as it fights to beat back the deadly virus.
The winnings will go directly to the national hospitals, which are in danger of getting overwhelmed as coronavirus carries on spreading.
"I am pleased that the €16million of historic expired prizes has become available to support investments in health at a time of unprecedented national crisis due to COVID-19," Paschal Donohoe announced.
Andrew Algeo, CEO of the Ireland National Lottery, added, "All of us at the National Lottery are delighted to see this €16 million used to improve health in our communities".
More than €5.5 billion have been collected for good causes since the National Lottery started in 1987.