• Monday 1 November 2021 marks 65 years since the first Premium Bond was bought
  • A record 113,081,411,333 Bonds were in the October prize draw
  • A total of 538 million prizes have now been paid out

65 years ago on Monday (1 November), the then Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd, visited a Post Office and purchased the very first Premium Bond. Little did he know that he was starting a savings revolution. By the end of the first day, more than £5 million of Bonds had been purchased, with the hearts and minds of the nation well and truly captured.

Seven months later, on the 1 June 1957, the nation waited with bated breath in anticipation of the first ever Premium Bonds prize draw. Ahead of 1 June 1957, 49 million Bonds were purchased, meaning that the first draw would see more than 23,142 prizes paid out with a top prize of £1,000.

Premium Bonds more popular than ever 65 years on

The numbers around the first draw were staggering at the time – the nation had never known anything quite like it. However, with Premium Bonds more popular than ever, the figures dwarf in comparison when compared to the latest prize draw. Since Premium Bonds were first launched:

  • The jackpot has increased 99,900% - it currently stands at £1,000,000; when Premium Bonds were launched, it was £1,000.
  • The number of eligible Bonds has increased more than 230,000% – the very first draw saw around 49 million Bonds eligible. This figure currently stands at 113,081,411,333. The figure has almost doubled since ERNIE’s 60th Birthday, when the number of eligible Bonds sat at 64,057,711,819. In November 2006, when Premium Bonds turned 50, there were 32,329,928,097 eligible Bonds.
  • There are 141 times more prizes now – the first draw saw 23,142 prizes paid out. In the most recent draw, NS&I paid out 3,277,723 prizes. Customer behaviour has also changed, with almost 9 in 10 of the total prizes each month now paid directly into customers’ bank account or automatically reinvested into more Premium Bonds.
  • The prize fund is more than 97 times bigger – the prize fund for the first draw was £969,750. In the most recent draw, NS&I paid out £94,234,500 in tax-free prize money
  • Almost four times as many people hold Premium Bonds now – ahead of the first draw, there were 6 million Premium Bonds holders; there are now 21.1 million.
  • The maximum investment is 100 times more – In November 1956, customers could invest a maximum of £500 in Premium Bonds. The maximum investment limit has risen steadily over the years and now stands at £50,000.
  • 394,007 Bonds bought prior to the first draw are still eligible – of the more than 64 million Bonds that were bought prior to the first draw, 394,007 were still active in October 2021. Up to the October 2021 Premium Bonds draw, these Bonds had won a total of 103 prizes worth £2,600 in 2021.
  • Bond number 200VB673507 is one of the luckiest on record – purchased in January 2013 and belonging to a Premium Bonds holder from the West Midlands, the Bond won four £25 prizes between July 2017 and March 2019.

ERNIE’s magic reaches far and wide

ERNIE, the machine that generates numbers for the monthly prize draws, and currently in its fifth incarnation, has been extremely busy over the years. The random number generator has picked jackpot winners from every county in England except from the UK’s smallest county, Rutland. Since the first draw in June 1957, ERNIE has:

  • Completed 774 draws – ERNIE has been extremely busy, with the November 2021 Premium Bonds prize draw being ERNIE’s 774th Premium Bonds prize draw.
  • Drawn more than 538 million winning Bond numbers – with just 23,142 prizes in the first draw, ERNIE has had to seriously up his output in subsequent years, with different versions of the machine being developed to keep up with demand. It now takes an average of 13 minutes to complete a draw as opposed to the more than two days it took to complete the first ever draw.
  • Paid out more than £22.1 billion in prize money – in 773 draws, ERNIE has been responsible for more than £22.1 billion in prize money being distributed to Premium Bonds winners.
  • Created hundreds of millionaires – since the £1 million jackpot prize was introduced in April 1994, ERNIE has made sure that Agent Million has been kept busy travelling the length and breadth of the country, as well as overseas. November’s millionaires will be ERNIE’s 469th and 470th.

The size and scale of Premium Bonds has changed hugely over the last 65 years, with the number of eligible Bonds at a record high. Harold Wilson, Shadow Chancellor at the time of their launch, referred to Premium Bonds as a ‘squalid raffle’. However, the way that they have captured the imaginations of multiple generations shows that they have become a British institution loved not just across the UK, but across the world. 

Jill Waters, NS&I Retail Director, said: “It is a testament to the popularity and enduring appeal of Premium Bonds that they still remain one of the nation’s favourite savings product 65 years after they first went on sale.  Premium Bonds are about more than just the £1 million jackpot prizes – each month, there are more than 3.2 million other tax-free prizes paid out bringing joy up and down the country.

“Premium Bonds are an exciting way to save and are more popular than ever with billions of pounds having been paid to millions of people over the years. No matter whether you have £25 or £50,000 invested, Premium Bonds have the ability to surprise and delight each month, while also embracing technology and giving piece of mind that all money invested is 100% secure.”

Premium Bonds for everyone and move with the times

As well as being the UK’s favourite savings product, Premium Bonds are also one of the UK’s most accessible. The minimum investment is £25 and children are also able to hold them, with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends able to purchase for a child aged under 16 and give the gift of saving.

For people thinking that they need the maximum investment to win, they need only look to a winner from July 2004 in the London Borough of Newham. The woman won the £1 million jackpot with a Bond purchased in February 1959 and a total holding worth just £17, showing that the seemingly impossible really is possible when it comes to the magic of Premium Bonds.

Premium Bonds have continued to move with the times. As well as updating ERNIE so the fifth incarnation now uses quantum technology to generate random numbers and providing customers with the option to have prizes paid directly into their bank account, customers can also use voice-enabled technology to check to see if they have won a prize in each monthly draw. Premium Bonds holders can ask Alexa whether they have been lucky enough to win any of the millions of prizes paid out each month or use the official Premium Bonds prize checker online at or the prize checker app.

Notes to Editors

  1. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Premium Bonds, NS&I has spokespeople available for interview, including Agent Million. If you wish to interview an NS&I spokesperson, please contact the NS&I media team on the contact details below.
  2. Details of November 2021’s Premium Bonds jackpot winners can be found at from Monday 1 November 2021.
  3. NS&I has a wealth of facts and figures (including regional) about Premium Bonds. If you require any further details, please contact the NS&I media team on the contact details below
  4. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
  5. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of savings and investments to 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.
  6. The annual Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.00% and the odds of each individual Bond number winning any prize are currently 34,500 to 1. The prize fund rate and the odds of winning are variable, so they can change from time to time.
  7. Pictures of ERNIE 5, the previous ERNIEs and Premium Bonds, including the Premium Bonds app, are available in high-resolution jpeg format from the NS&I media team.
  8. Further information on NS&I, including press releases and product information, is available on the website at Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi or join the conversation on Facebook: NS&I.

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