(TELEGRAPH) — For nearly two decades, millions of Britons have been enticed into playing the National Lottery by its tantalising slogan “it could be you”.

For 80,000 residents of a Hertfordshire town those four words have taken on an added urgency.

Families in Stevenage and neighbouring Hitchin have been rifling through purses, pulling out cushions and even employing helpers in a desperate attempt to find a lottery ticket worth nearly £64 million.

When lottery operators first announced the winning ticket had been bought in the area in June, they expected its owner to come forward within days to pose with a bottle of champagne and fixed grin.

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