Upon its debut in 1994, the National Lottery quickly established itself as the biggest and most popular lottery in the United Kingdom, and is still going strong over 15 years later. Having expanded significantly in terms of format and even prize money, the National Lottery has created scores of multi-millionaires and made countless people richer, not to mention being an entertaining national pastime.
In addition to the game itself, many lottery lovers are also keen followers of the statistics involved in the bi-weekly draw - whether as a means to improve their chances, or just out of curiosity. While the lottery is by definition a game of chance, with no single combination of six numbers technically being more likely to win the jackpot than any other, aficionados believe that everything from the machine and set of balls used to the frequency of times a particular number has appeared could make a significant difference to their chances.
As a result, you'll find many websites listing lottery statistics, including lists of the most commonly drawn numbers - currently 38, 23, 43, 44, 11 and 31 - and those that have appeared the least - 20, 41, 13, 21, 16 and 15. While these should by no means be taken to signal trends, they are often embraced by seasoned lottery fans looking to boost their chances.
While many lottery winners understandably opt to keep their identities private, some have been only too keen to speak out about their winnings, offering an insight into just how much players can hope to win if their lucky numbers come through. This is particularly the case for those who win the EuroMillions draw, with one British couple having recently celebrated a win over £50 million.
Even more surprising are jackpot winners who do not claim their winning tickets, whether due to forgetfulness or other reasons. More than 24 winning tickets worth over £1 million each have been unclaimed to date, with the highest value belonging to a ticket that expired on 2 January 2006 - 180 days after the draw took place, according to the regulations - for a staggering £9,476,995.
So, with the various systems and statistical analysis practiced on a weekly basis, is there really a secret to winning the National Lottery? If there were, there would likely be a great deal more millionaires. The statistics may indicate that your own success is unlikely, but one of the easiest ways to beat this is simply to buy a second ticket - instantly doubling your chances of scoring the big win.