A Christmas dream turned into an Easter nightmare for one National Lottery customer after they inexplicably failed to claim a €1m Christmas Millionaire raffle prize.
The ticket holder failed to contact the National Lottery by the 5.30pm deadline today despite an eleventh hour plea for the owner of a Christmas Millionaire raffle ticket to come forward.
It is now feared that the winning ticket was either lost or given to someone overseas who failed to realise their festive good fortune.
Under National Lottery rules, the winner had until close of business on Friday (March 31) to make contact before the winning ticket became null and void.
A National Lottery team even travelled to Cork last week to visit the outlet where the winning ticket was sold almost three months ago in a bid to highlight the unclaimed prize.
Staff at the Topaz garage on Lower Tivoli Road, on the outskirts of Cork city, sold ticket number 179740 on December 21.
The ticket later scooped the €1m top prize in the Christmas raffle draw.
Under National Lottery rules, a winning ticket holder has 90 days to claim their prize.
If the holder or holders fail to make contact by the deadline, their winnings revert back into the National Lottery prize fund.
National Lottery head of marketing, Michael Hayes, had urged anyone who purchased a €20 Christmas Millionaire ticket at Topaz in Cork to carefully re-check their tickets.
"Millionaire Raffle tickets are a popular gift at Christmas time so we would appeal to all those who have bought a ticket as a gift or who may have received a ticket from a loved one to check their tickets for a chance of claiming a life-changing €1m prize," he said. Topaz store manager, Niall Buckley, said he had hoped the ticket owner would realise their good fortune in time.
Eleventh-hour claims are nothing new to the National Lottery - or to their Cork customers.
One Cork winner of a EuroMillions prize waited until exactly one hour before the expiry time for claims to lodge their ticket for the €380,000 prize.
That followed a similar media campaign by the National Lottery for the winner to come forward.
Due to National Lottery regulations, they cannot specify precisely what time the Christmas Millionaire ticket was purchased on December 21.