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Paddy Gilmore, Director of Learning and Partnership, Ulster Museum, Miss Northern Ireland Rebekah Shirley and Lottery winner Peter Lavery, who scooped a massive £10 million in 1996, celebrate 20 years of the National Lottery outside the Ulster Museum.

81 millionaires created and £1 billion invested in NI projects since 1994

AS the National Lottery celebrates 20 years of changing lives next week, new figures published today reveal that a whopping 81 millionaires have been created in Northern Ireland alone since the first Lottery draw on Saturday November 19, 1994.

In total, the past two decades have seen 647 ‘high tier’ winners from Northern Ireland scoop life-changing prizes of £50,000 or more – most recently 16 year old Callum Fitzpatrick from Newry who only last month celebrated his massive £390k win with a glass of orange juice.

However, the best news for local Lottery players is that Northern Ireland is currently in its luckiest phase of the Lottery’s 20 year history with mathematicians revealing that 34 of our 81 millionaires have been created in the past four years.

Since 2011 a millionaire has been created, on average, in Northern Ireland EVERY 41 DAYS*.

And we are getting luckier! Since March last year someone from Northern Ireland has won more than £50k EVERY SIX DAYS** on average with no fewer than 98 ‘high tier’ winners.

But it’s not only the players in Northern Ireland who are celebrating the National Lottery’s birthday as more than £1 billion has been invested in projects here since the Lottery began.

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The first National Lottery grant in Northern Ireland was £42,000 to Enniskillen Lawn Tennis clubs to upgrade their courts and floodlighting. Since then, a huge total of 20,117 grants has been awarded to individuals and organisations across the North helping to change lives and transform communities.

The largest National Lottery grant remains the £45 million for Belfast’s Odyssey Complex in 1997 while the smallest was £60 to help a writer with the publication of their first book in 2008.

Notable local sports stars who have received National Lottery support during their careers include the world’s number one golfer Rory McIlroy, recently crowned world-super bantamweight boxer Carl Frampton and Team GB Winter paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher. While iconic places such as the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre, St George’s Market and the Ulster Museum, have all benefited from National Lottery funding.


A National Lottery spokesperson said: “In 20 years, the National Lottery has helped transform life in Northern Ireland for the better, creating iconic cultural landmarks,

empowering communities and developing world class sporting talent. National Lottery funding has improved people’s health, preserved our rich heritage and created a better future for all.

“In addition to all the projects that have benefited, the past two decades have seen 81 lucky winners in Northern Ireland become overnight millionaires while 647 have won life- changing amounts of £50k or more.

“With a staggering £1 billion invested in Northern Ireland projects over the past 20 years, National Lottery players can be proud of the positive changes they have helped bring about since that first draw in 1994,” he concluded.

The first National Lottery draw took place on Saturday 19 November, 1994. An amazing 22 million people watched as Noel Edmonds hosted the draw which saw seven jackpot winners each scoop £839,254. The first millionaire was created in the second draw on the following Saturday.

The National Lottery is available to play at retailers throughout Northern Ireland or online at


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