A National Lottery jackpot of nearly 60m must be won in Saturday’s draw after 13 consecutive rollovers failed to find a winner.
New Camelot rules mean the 57.8m prize is shared out in the first draw after the prize reaches 50m – it hit 50.4m in Wednesday’s draw.
If no-one matches six numbers on Saturday, the next tier of winners will share the Lotto prize.
The previous largest National Lottery jackpot was 42m.
This was shared between three separate ticket holders in January 1996.
The rule changes have increased the chances of becoming a millionaire, Camelot says, leading to the introduction of a millionaire’s raffle.
This means if no player matches all six numbers on Saturday, the prize will be shared between winners in the next tier where there is at least one winner – almost certainly those people who have five main numbers and the bonus ball.
Camelot said this would make it “some of the best odds players have ever had to win a multi-million pound, life-changing jackpot”.
A Camelot spokesman said its website, which crashed for about 10 minutes on Thursday, has been “phenomenally busy” and that it expects Saturday’s draw to be one of the most popular ever.
The company expects to be selling more than 400 tickets per second in the last hour before sales close at 19.30 GMT.
According to the Sunday Times Rich List, winning Saturday’s jackpot outright would put the holder of that ticket on a par with the fortune of Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb.
Top 10 biggest Lotto winners
- 22,590,829 on 10 June 1995, won by Paul Maddison and Mark Gardiner from Hastings, East Sussex
- 20,100,472 on 14 July 2004, won by Iris Jeffrey from Belfast
- 20,088,838 on 8 July 1995, won by six members of the Benson family from Hull
- 20,000,000 on 16 Sept 2000, won by six members of the Cross family in Lanarkshire
- 20,000,000 on 12 May 2001, won by someone who declined publicity
- 18,992,109 on 26 Jan 2008, won by Steve Smith from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
- 18,268,465 on 23 July 2005, won by 11 members of a Tesco syndicate from Driffield, East Yorkshire
- 18,051,588 on 3 June 2006, won by someone who declined publicity
- 17,880,003 on 10 Dec 1994, won by someone who declined publicity
- 17,799,986 on 9 March 2011, won by Matthew Breach from Battle, East Sussex
Source: Camelot Group
Wednesday’s jackpot follows the number of balls in the draw increasing from 49 to 59 in October. In that draw, two tickets matched five numbers and the bonus ball – winning 74,900 each.
According to mathematicians, this reduced the odds of a player getting six numbers from about one in 14 million to one in 45 million.
Dr Elizabeth Williamson, an ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society, says ticket holders are more likely to:
- be struck by lightning – about one in 300,000 (over the course of a year)
- die in a plane crash – about one in 3.5m
- have triplets – about one in 8,000
- have quadruplets – about one in 800,000
- give birth to identical quadruplets – about one in 11 million
Dr Williamson also says more ticket sales means there is a greater number of people likely to pick exactly the same set of numbers, who would therefore share the main prize.
“So one sensible strategy might be to pick six numbers that you think are rather unpopular, and that way while you’re not increasing your chance of picking the right six numbers, you might be increasing your chance of keeping hold of all the money, once you get them all right,” she said.
How past lottery winners have spent their millions
Former hairdresser Susan Herdman won 1.2m in 2010 and used her money to focus on her hobby of amateur motor racing, and has become a national champion.
Nikki Otterburn, a former fitness instructor, owns a riding school after her 2.2m win in 2001.
Edd and Michelle Edwards won 1.9m in 2008 – Michelle is now working at her own cake baking and decoration business.
Ted and Marilyn Newton bought a woodland for the use of local children and scouts after winning 7.9m in 2009.
Morris and Carol Worrall bought a beach hut with some of the 15m they won in 2005.
The biggest single-ticket National Lottery win was 22.5m, which was shared by work colleagues Mark Gardiner and Paul Maddison from Hastings in 1995.
The biggest individual winner was Iris Jeffrey from Belfast, who won 20.1m in 2004.
But Mrs Jeffrey’s National Lottery prize has been surpassed in recent years by British winners of the Euromillions lottery.
Money for that prize comes from tickets sales in a number of European countries and the jackpot often rolls over for many more weeks.
The biggest UK Euromillions winners are Colin and Chris Weir, from Largs in North Ayrshire, in 2011 who collected 161.6m.
Saturday also sees a record-breaking lottery draw in the United States, with $800m (551m) up for grabs in the Powerball game, which is played in 44 states, Washington DC, and two US territories.
The odds of winning that prize are one in 292.2 million.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk