Lottery fever as jackpot hits £18m
Lottery retailers across Ulster were bracing themselves for a last minute rush ahead of tonight's £18m bumper triple rollover.
The massive jackpot must be won tonight - which means even if no one matches all six main numbers the prize will then roll down to the next prize level (five main numbers plus the bonus ball until there is a winner or winners.
This is only the third time in almost 13 years of the National Lottery that the jackpot has rolled over three times.
Retailers throughout the province have been doing brisk business since Wednesday's draw failed to find a winner of the double rollover jackpot of £10m and today they are expecting one of their biggest trades before the 7.30pm deadline.
National Lottery Northern Ireland regional manager Catherine Jordan said the champagne was already on ice.
She said: "This is only the third triple rollover in the 13-year history of the National Lottery and my colleagues and I are really excited."
Northern Ireland holds the record for the biggest single winner of a Lotto draw. Belfast grandmother, Iris Jeffrey, scooped a massive £20.1m, two-and-a-half years ago.
The province's next biggest winner was former bus driver Peter Lavery who took the £10.2m jackpot in 1996.
And retired train driver Willie John McConnell won £3.8m when his numbers came up in August 1995.