C5's Desmond unveils the Health Lottery
The media tycoon, who purchased Channel 5 last summer for £103.5m, said that 20.5p from every £1 ticket purchased for the Health Lottery will go to "health-related causes" outside the core NHS remit.
Details of prizes for the lottery have not yet been announced, but Health Lottery chief executive Martin Hall said that the scheme would give away "life-changing" jackpots every week.
Desmond, who also owns a variety of newspapers and magazines via his Northern & Shell group, said at a launch event today that it was a "no-brainer" for him to get involved with such a project.
"This is a great way of us being able to get across a minimum of £50 million a year to add to and change people's lives," he said.
"This is a groundbreaking, bold, new initiative that will be both great fun to play but also directly benefit local communities around Great Britain and the local health-linked projects that are important within those communities but are outside of NHS funding.
"The Health Lottery will provide something extra - extra choice, extra fun, extra winners and extra financial resources for health projects all over Great Britain. I couldn't be more proud to be the owner of the Health Lottery brand and therefore fully associated with it."
The billionaire pledged that he would be able to secure first class distribution, promotion and marketing for the lottery.
He noted that a weekly audience of 37 million people watch or read his products - including Channel 5, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and OK magazine - meaning there are ample opportunities for cross-promotion of the Health Lottery.
Asked which major television channel would broadcast the weekly lottery draw, Desmond added: "I can't imagine it being on Sky, can you?"