Ministers were terrified they might win the UK’s first Lottery

Ministers were terrified they might win the UK’s first National Lottery after then-Prime Minister John Major ordered his MPs to buy tickets as a public show of support

  • John Major said ministers should be seen buying tickets to publicise the launch
  • MPs were then told the prime minister thought there would be risks’ if they won 
  • Instead he suggested they donate the tickets to charity – and left ministers to decide whether they should apply the same rules to family members 

Ministers were thrown into panic over what to do if they won the first National Lottery draw.

Sir John Major decided ministers should be seen buying tickets to publicise the launch of the prize in November 1994.

But in lengthy correspondence, bemused MPs were then told the prime minister thought there would be ‘presentational risks’ if they went on to win the jackpot.

Sir John Major decided ministers should be seen buying tickets to publicise the launch of the prize in November 1994. But in lengthy correspondence, bemused MPs were then told the prime minister thought there would be ‘presentational risks’ if they went on to win the jackpot

The then national heritage secretary Stephen Dorrell said it would be ‘unhelpful to the Government’ if ministers kept winnings – despite asking them to buy the tickets in the first place.

Instead he suggested they donate the tickets to charity – and left ministers to decide whether they should apply the same rules to family members.

John Gummer, a Conservative MP at the time, wrote in response: ‘Aren’t we in danger of overreacting on all this?’

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