Winning the £1million Premium Bonds jackpot is an amazing feeling – but a secretive person has the best job in the world and gets to share that joy every month.
That’s because if you win the top monthly prize on the lottery run by National Savings & Investments (NS&I), you get told in person – and the person who does that is known as Agent Million.
The identity of Agent Million is a tightly-guarded secret, to protect them and the winners they visit – but The Mirror has managed to secure a rare interview with the undercover operative.
In a candid interview, Agent Million reveals how winners find out the good news, how they react – and how much they get paid.
Agent Million is actually part of a small team who take it in turns to find and inform two lucky NS&I customers every month that they have won £1million.
Have you had a visit from Agent Million? Message email@example.com
The role is carried out by a crack team of existing NS&I staff who are hand-picked for having the right skills for the role.
Alamy Stock Photo)
One of Agent Million’s handlers said: “They have to be brilliant communicators. They’ve got to have a warmth and an empathy, and build up trust quickly. They’ve got to have those essential skills to read a situation and adapt accordingly.”
But taking the role is not done lightly, as it has to stay a secret – even from other NS&I staff, who consider being picked to be an Agent Million a rare honour.
If they accept, they go through a tough training programme under the guidance of an experienced Agent Million, then go out and do it by themselves.
The Agent Million we speak to is a middle-aged woman who keeps her face hidden.
She took up the role in February 2015, and says she has travelled to every part of the country letting new millionaires know they’ve won big.
She said how people react is total pot luck, ranging from disbelief to joy.
“I’m always well prepared, but because I’ve never met that person before I don’t know how they are going to react,” she said. “Every winner is absolutely individual. We get stunned silence, whooping and cheering, full-on euphoria, some are shaking or crying.
“But we have to have that skillset to gain the customer’s confidence. It’s about reassurance. If the winners don’t believe me they can always telephone the office so my ID can be verified.”
Some winners in particular stand out to Agent Million.
One lucky winner in her early seventies was gobsmacked, and told Agent Million that her lucky win had been predicted years earlier.
“She was telling us a tale that when she was younger she visited a psychic, who told her to invest in Premium Bonds and she’d get a big prize, but later on in life,” Agent Million explained. “So she invested a little over £1,000 and there she was, aged in her early seventies, and winning big on the Premium Bonds .”
Another winner, in his late teens, bagged the £1million jackpot with Premium Bonds bought using money his grandmother left him in her will.
“It was the evening and he’d not been long up that day, after being out the night before,” Agent Million said.
“His grandma had actually left a legacy for him which was invested in Premium Bonds. The winning bond came from the legacy his grandma had left him.”
But another £1million winner was so suspicious they wouldn’t even open the door.
“One customer I went out to visit with a new colleague, but unfortunately the customer didn’t believe anything I was saying to them and we were having a conversation through the letterbox,” Agent Million said.
“Eventually our reassurance put the customer at ease and we moved into the back garden. Once I’d actually delivered the news, the customer said ‘That’s it, we’re not sitting out here anymore, let’s go into the house for some tea to calm ourselves down’.”
An elderly lady had won £100,000. She called us, and was very very excited. But she was desperate to tell us she also had a £500 and £25 prize that month.
Another example was a lady calling in. She was telling us a tale that when she was younger she visited a psychic, who told her to invest in Premium Bonds and she’d get a big prize, but later on in life. So she invested a little over £1,000 and there she was, aged in her early 70s, and won big on the Premium Bonds.
If you are ever contacted by Agent Million it will be a surprise until the very last second.
That’s because they basically wear disguises by changing what they wear depending on where they are visiting.
Agent Million said: “For obvious reasons I can’t identify what I look like – I have to stay anonymous for the winners’ security and my own.
“But we do a lot of research on the area and I try to dress inconspicuously to fit into the environment.
“I don’t want the neighbours to start twitching the curtains, I have to be part of the environment and look like a friend or relative. It’s always neat and tidy – no jeans, nothing like that – but it’s about blending in.”
Agent Million can even come across as slightly restrained.
“I know I probably come across as really, really nervous – because I am,” she said. “It’s about how am I going to be seen, things like that. I’ve got a Fitbit on and I can see how my heart rate goes up.
“But once the winner has calmed down and gone down a few pegs I can be more myself.”
Due to the Covid pandemic Agent Million cannot visit people face to face. She won’t reveal how they have been contacting people, apart from to say: “We still successfully deliver the two jackpot prize winners every month. Covid has not stopped Ernie from spreading the good news.”
Some might assume that the person who has to travel up and down the country visiting millionaires might be well paid themselves.
But nothing is further from the truth – Agent Million is not paid at all, above their salary for their other NS&I role.
“There is no extra payment, I do it for the love of the job,” she said. “I am so proud to be able to represent NS&I and Ernie and inform the customer that they’ve won that money. If the opportunity ever came I’d do the millionaire job every single day.”
Agent Million’s handler is adamant that the personal touch of delivering the good news in person – or as close as possible – is here to stay.
“It’s a way of engaging with our customers, and it’s just such a wonderful thing and a life-changing moment,” they explained.