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Ernie reaches £17.4bn in prize money in 60 years of Premium Bond draws

There are more than 1.3 million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth more than £55 million.

Premium Bonds are celebrating 60 years since the first draw on June 1 1957.

For the June 2017 draw, Ernie paid out over 2.3 million prizes worth more than £66 million in total.

This brings the grand total number of prizes since the first draw in 1957 to 371 million and the overall value of those prizes to £17.4 billion.

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Ernest Marples, the Postmaster-General, pressing a button to start up Ernie for the first Premium Savings Bonds draw (PA)

The popularity of the bonds over the decades means about one in three UK adults now hold the investments.

Alderman Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd, the then Lord Mayor of London, bought the very first Premium Bond on November 1 1956.

The investment caught the imagination of the British public to the extent that by the end of their first day on sale, £5 million worth of Premium Bonds had been sold.

By the time of the first prize draw on June 1 1957, there were 23,000 prizes drawn – with a top prize then of £1,000. The first jackpot winner in 1957 was from Cumbria.

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Bruce Forsyth pushing the button to start Ernie (PA)

June’s Premium Bond millionaires are a man from Devon and a woman from Surrey.

The two jackpot winners this month are the 363rd and 364th people to have won the top £1 million prize since it was introduced in April 1994.

Ernie – or Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment – generates numbers at random for the prize draw.

Now in its fourth generation, the first Ernie was invented by a Bletchley Park codebreaker.

Across the UK, there are still more than 1.3 million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth more than £55 million collectively.

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Pam Grewer, 21, checks through some of the bonds for the first Premium Savings Bonds draw (PA)

Premium Bonds holders can reduce the chances of their prizes becoming unclaimed by registering to have any prizes paid directly into their bank accounts. There is no time limit for claiming prizes.

The odds of each individual bond number winning a prize are 30,000 to one.

Each bond number has the same chance of winning, regardless of when or where it was bought, according to provider National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

In May, savers were dealt a blow when NS&I, which has a duty to balance various interests and bear in mind the wider market, slashed the Premium Bond prize pot as well as cutting some of its savings rates.

Money held with NS&I has 100% security as it is backed by the Treasury.

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From Belfast Telegraph