A Hamden, Connecticut man who missed a deadline to cash in his winning $5.8 million Connecticut Lotto ticket may get a second chance to hit the jackpot.
The state House of Representatives voted 81-64 Thursday to give the money to Clarence Jackson, 31, who bought the winning ticket for the Oct. 13, 1995, drawing and missed the one-year deadline to redeem it by three days.
But there's a catch.
The issue was referred back to the legislature's Appropriations Committee, because there was no money set aside in this year's state budget to pay Jackson. Even if the committee approves the plan, both the House and Senate would have to approve it.
Jackson said he has never given up hope, and he continues to play the lottery.
"I play Powerball twice a week, every week _ $7 worth," Jackson said. "You have to stay the course. Every single day I think about it. I'm trying to live the American dream. This country was built on dreams. I'm just praying and wishing for the best. What I went through, I wouldn't wish that on Osama bin Laden."
Debate in the House centered on whether the rules should be bent for one person or strictly enforced.
"Ninety percent of what we do here is change the rules," said Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford. "A lot of people are making a lot of money for the exceptions we give here, and we ought to give one more for a hard-working kid."
Rep. William R. Dyson, co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, supports Jackson's cause and said he would not block the request when it came to his panel.
But Rep. Robert Farr, who opposes Jackson's request, said that everyone must abide by the rules.
Jackson was 22 when he bought the Lotto ticket. He has said he didn't discover he was a winner until 15 minutes before the ticket was to expire _ midnight a year after the drawing. When he took the ticket to lottery headquarters three days later, he was told he had missed the deadline. After lottery officials rejected his appeal, he took his case to the legislature in 1997.