For better or worse, there are a lot of lotteries in Europe. The lotteries available in the old continent can be divided into two main categories – Pan-European lottery and local lottery, also known as a national lottery.
Global pan-European lottery means that the lottery is played in more than one country in Europe. Such Pan-European lotteries are EuroJackpot, Vikinglotto and EuroMillions.
National lottery (local lottery) is characterised by the fact that it is played in a single country in Europe. Hypothetically, it resembles a flagship local lottery of the specific country. Some of these lotteries, however, became popular not only in Europe but around the world, too. It is mainly because the prizes are impressively large and lure many people. Some examples of lotteries which became famous worldwide are the Spanish lottery El Gordo, Italian lottery SuperEnalotto and the British UK lotto.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the so-called Pan-European lotteries as they offer some of the largest prizes and tempt not only millions of Europeans but people from all around the world, too.
One of the most famous lotteries in Europe is called EuroMillions and it launched 7th February 2004. The lottery is available in a number of countries, such as the United Kingdom (plus the Isle of Man), Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Ireland, France (plus overseas regions and collectives), Belgium, Austria and Andorra. Players can join in the fun and try their luck to win life-changing prizes. The lottery requires seven correct numbers to win the big money – the player chooses five main numbers which can be any number from 1 to 50. He or she chooses another two lucky star numbers from a pool of 12 numbers, too. One line per draw is the minimum play for EuroMillions where each line costs €2.50.
If the jackpot is not won, it rolls-up from €17 million (this is also the minimum prize).
Eurojackpot is a European lottery which launched in March 2012 and it is the second-biggest lottery on the old continent. The countries taking part in it are as it follows: Poland, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Norway, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Iceland, Hungary, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Czech Republic and Croatia.
Eurojackpot lottery requires to match 5 correct numbers from 1 to 50 plus two more supplementary numbers out of another 10. The minimum jackpot is €10,000,000 and can grow to €90,000,000. €2 per line is how it costs to play the Eurojackpot. If you have ever wondered what the odds of winning the jackpot are, they are 1: 95,344,200. Also, there are 12 tiers of winnings.
In comparison with other European lotteries such as the German Lotto 6 aus 49 and the EuroMillions, the EuroJackpot is made with the idea to pay out more regularly (1:95 million odds vs over 1:139 million for the German Lotto and the EuroMillions). This is the reason because of which it is not expected that the lottery will ever hit the same record-smashing sizes achieved by the EuroMillions because it will be probably won instead.
In 2006 it was proposed the EuroMillions lottery to compete with the Eurojackpot lottery. Because of the big number of countries participating, the EuroMillions is able to offer significantly larger prizes than those offered in a Pan-European lottery. Once EuroMillions became so popular and successful, a number of countries, including the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Denmark, Finland and Germany met to negotiate for the Eurojackpot lottery. The meeting took place in Amsterdam in November 2011. Then, Estonia joined. The very first ticket sales began on March 17, 2012, and the very first draw was on March 23, 2012. Spain joined on June 30, 2012. Croatia, Latvia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania joined on February 1, 2013. On October 10, 2014, Hungary and The Czech Republic came along, too. Slovakia joined on October 9, 2015, while Poland – on 15 September 2017. To compare, the Eurojack has a broader reach of players with an audience of 300 million while Euromillions has 217 million.
Vikinglotto is a multi-national lottery played in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia (Slovenia is the only non-Scandinavian country). The lottery started its operation in 1993 and was the very first of its kind throughout Europe.
The player selects six main numbers from 1 to 48 and one bonus number, the so-called Viking number, from 1 to 8. Six main numbers are drawn (from 1 to 48) and then the special Viking number is drawn from another pool (from 1 to 8). Because that bonus number is drawn from a separate pool, it is not unlikely the exact same number to appear twice in one draw – once as the Viking number and once as the main number. The jackpot goes to that player who matches all seven numbers.
Despite the fact Vikinglotto was the very first Pan-European lottery, it somehow did not become as popular as Eurojackpot and EuroMillions. The reason behind it can be the fact that this Scandinavian lottery does not offer as large main prizes as Eurojackpot and EuroMillions. It is not surprising the fact that the Vikinglotto jackpots are smaller than the ones offered by the American lotteries, too. It is because the Scandinavian population is smaller than the American and European population. Therefore, there are not enough Scandinavian residents to fund the larger prizes.
Local National Lotteries
National Lottery UK
The National Lottery is the British state-franchised lottery which has been held over 20 years, since 1994. The winnings are tax-free and are paid as a lump sum. An interesting fact to mention is that about 53% of the money spent on National Lottery games goes to the prize fund, while 25% are for “good causes”. There are people, however, that consider this a form of “stealth tax” levied to support the fund of the National Lottery. The rest of the money is distributed as it follows: 12% for the UK Government (as lottery duty), 4% to retailers (as commission), and the final 5% goes for the operator Camelot where 1% is for profit and 4% to cover the operating costs.
The player selects 6 different numbers from 1 to 59. For those who do not want to choose numbers, there is an option for automatically generated random numbers, called “Lucky Dip”. Initially, the entry fee was £1 per board, however, in October 2013 it was increased to £2.
The drawing of the lottery is twice a week – on Wednesday and Saturday.
Firstly, Lotto was called The National Lottery but because of ticket sales decrease, the lottery changed its name to Lotto in 2002. It is by far the most popular draw with millions of tickets sold each draw. In January 1995, 133 people won the jackpot which was the highest number of winners for a single jackpot. Each of them won £122,510.
During the draw, six balls are drawn, each of which is numbered (from 1 to 59). Then, a Bonus Ball is drawn, too. This ball, however, affects those players who match 5 numbers. Players who match at least two of the six drawn numbers are awarded. The more matched drawn numbers, the bigger the prize. The epic jackpot goes for that player who matches all six drawn numbers. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1: 45,057,474.
If there is no winner, the sum is added to that of the next draw.
El Gordo de la Primitiva
El Gordo de la Primitiva is a Spanish state lottery. Its name translates as “the big one”.
There are two grids on each ticket – one with numbers from 0 to 9 and the other with numbers from 1 to 54. Players select one number in the first grid and five more in the other. By picking six to eleven numbers in the grid, the player can make 6 to 462 bets using the same ticket.
Every Sunday, five numbers are drawn randomly from 1 to 54, and one more from 0 to 9. If there is a player whose numbers matches the drawn ones, he or she is awarded. There is a total of 8 prize categories – the first one is for a perfect match 5+1, second 5+0, third 4+1, and so on till 2+0. Each bet can only win one prize even though the ticket can hold more than one bet.
Of the total sum collected, 45% goes for the state, 10% for refunds (returns) and 45% goes for prizes where 22% goes for the first category and 23% for the other categories. There is a guaranteed minimum sum of £5 million for the first category. If there is no winner, 11% of the total sum is added to the guaranteed or previous sum for the next draw which often results in large bonus prizes.
La Primitiva is the oldest lottery around the globe. The very first draw was in 1763. In October 2015, this Spanish lottery smashed all records when it grew to €101.7 million after 56 rollovers. The epic jackpot was won by a single ticket holder who matched all six numbers plus the reintegro and went home with the large prize.
The drawing is held on Thursdays and Saturdays on a weekly basis. The good news is that the starting jackpot is not less than €2 million. In case of no winner, the jackpot increases with each draw on €400 000 +.
SuperEnalotto is an Italian lottery which has been played for more than 20 years, since 1997. The drawing is held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The odds of winning the jackpot are some of the lowest worldwide while the jackpots won are some of the biggest in the world.
The predecessor of SuperEnalotto is Enalotto which has existed since the 1950s but was modified to become SuperEnalotto.
In order to win the jackpot, the player has to match six numbers out of 90. Apart from the jackpot, there are five prize categories that can be won. The so-called “Jolly” number gives a bonus opportunity to those have already matched 5 numbers. If they match that special number as well, they will get a higher 5+1 award. The “Jolly” number has nothing to do with the jackpot as it only affects the second prizes.
The Biggest EuroMillions Winners
Without a shadow of a doubt, EuroMillions is one of the most popular lotteries in Europe. Here’s a list of the 5 record-smashing EuroMillions winners!
When speaking of jackpot size, EuroMillions also eclipses Eurojackpot which is considered to be its biggest rival. The largest jackpot ever won in EuroMillion is the epic sum of €190 million – this sum has been won three times since the jackpot cap in 2012.
Now we are going to take a look at the largest single-ticket winners as well as the largest jackpot winnings on EuroMillions.
5 Biggest EuroMillions Winners
- €190 million – Spain, 6 October 2017
- €190 million – England, 10 August 2012
- €190 million – Portugal, 24 October 2014
- €187.9 million – Ireland/ Belgium, 25 June 2013
- €185 million – Scotland, 12 July 2011
The fourth-largest jackpot ever won was distributed to two winners, each of whom received the sum of €93.9 million. One of the winners was from Dublin, Ireland, while the other one was from Limburg, Belgium.
The biggest win so far in Belgium is €100 million, claimed by a winner in 2007 who preferred to remain anonymous. In comparison, the biggest win in Ireland was the enormous prize of €115 million, claimed by Dolores McNamara from Limerick. She won the jackpot back in 2005. In February, however, the record was smashed by an Irish family. So, hypothetically, Ireland makes it to the top three but since we mean the biggest winners, the split jackpot does not count.
5 Biggest Single Winners
- €190 million – Spain, 6 October 2017
- €190 million – England, 10 August 2012
- €190 million – Portugal, 24 October 2014
- €185 million – Scotland, 12 July 2011
- €175.7 million – Ireland, 19 February 2019
1. The Anonymous Spanish Winner – €190 million
In October 2017, the largest jackpot was won by a winner from Spain. After rolling over 6 times, the prize was claimed by a winner who preferred to stay anonymous. He or she purchased the ticket on one of the most popular holiday islands – Gran Canaria.
With millions of tourists on Gran Canaria every year, it is still not clear whether the winner was a foreign guest or a local. Either way, he or she will surely never forget the 6th of October 2017 – the date when he or she became one of the richest people in Spain. When speaking of EuroMillions jackpot, Spain has definitely had a lot of success.
2. Adrian and Gillian Bayford – €190 Million, The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is one of the initial founders of the lottery. However, the UK is also home to two of the biggest jackpot winners. Their names are Adrian and Gillian Bayford and they are sure to be a lucky couple.
The lottery jackpots in the UK are tax-free so the lucky couple from Haverhill, Suffolk holds the current record prize, the largest amount ever winnable since the jackpot was capped €190 million.
Despite the big win, Adrian did not want to let his old dream die – his music store. However, keeping the store open turned out to be a nuisance. He had a terrible time of random people begging him for money. As it turns out, it is not always rainbows and butterflies. The Bayfords admitted that they had a difficult marriage before winning the jackpot and adjusting to the win only worsened everything. Being in the spotlight, however, did not make it any better for them. The couple broke up and now Adrian and Gillian live separately. Adrian has opened a new record shop in Cambridge.
3. The Anonymous Portuguese Winner – €190 Million
Another lucky yet anonymous winner. The jackpot of €190 million was won on the 24th of October 2014. The player who claimed the win was from Castelo Branco, Central Portugal.
A sad fact about Portugal is that the country is one of the worst-hit by the Eurozone crisis. However, the winner does not have to worry about financial woes anymore, does he?
4. Colin and Chris Weir – €185 million, The United Kingdom
The Weirs’ jackpot win smashed the record in 2011. Even though Adrian and Gillian Bayford are the biggest EuroMillions winners overall, the Euro’s declining value between 2011 and 2012 made the Weirs the UK’s biggest winners. In terms of pounds Sterling, the Bayfords won £148,656,000, compared to the Wiers’ £161,653,000.
The lucky Weirs established The Weir Trust which is a charity organisation and also one of the supporters of the Scottish independence referendum. According to The Guardian newspaper, the family supplied 79% of the campaign funds. They have also bought a large mansion worth £3.5 million.
5. The Anonymous Irish Winners – €175.5 million
A family from Naul, North County Dublin will never forget the moment they became millionaires. The ticket was sold at a shop in the city and they had what to celebrate for. They were awarded a prize of €25,000. The shop owner was more than excited when he found out he had sold the lucky ticket.
The family, however, preferred to remain anonymous but their spokeperson said that winning the jackpot was a dream come true.
Anonymous But Famous
Even though many winners remain anonymous they simply cannot avoid making headlines. There is one memorable example of a French winner who decided to donate €50 million after winning the epic sum of €72 million. The man is thought to be in his 50s and he donated the millions to different charities for the health improvement of people with disabilities on condition.
The majority of the jackpot winners have opted to stay anonymous which is probably a wise decision, considering the fate of the Bayfords.
Not only do winners have to worry about their privacy but there are also many security concerns. Dolores McNamara had to learn it the hard way.
Ireland’s Biggest EuroMillions Winner
Dolores McNamara still holds the record for the biggest EuroMillions winner. She won an enormous sum of €115 million in 2005.
Because of her decision not to stay anonymous, she became a celebrity. After winning the jackpot, she splurged on a huge mansion in Lough Derg. Recently, she has become widely known for the investments she makes in retail property.
Dolores McNamara used to be biggest EuroMillion Winner for five years till a Spanish lady won €126 million. She also remained anonymous.
Have you ever dreamt of winning a large jackpot? Have you thought about the price you have to pay though? Would you prefer to remain anonymous or you want people to know?