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Newspaper apologizes for lottery results error

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Editor's Note: The man should have gotten his lottery results from Lottery Post's Quebec Lottery Results page.  Newspapers often post erroneous results, and mistakes — and apologies — cannot be re-printed until the next day. 

A Quebec man recently threatened to sue the Montreal Gazette after the paper's error made him think he'd won a huge lottery jackpot when he hadn't.

Today the paper ran a "Note to Readers" on A2 from its publisher, Alan Allnutt. He apologizes for the mistake — which he says "might rank as the most publicized error we've made in recent times" — and also takes the opportunity to get a dig in at the man and his lawyer for running to tell their story to other media. He writes, "There was, as far as we can ascertain, no effort to contact The Gazette prior to going to other media with the story."

Allnutt also makes a very frank admission: "...The Gazette publishes about 100,000 words and numbers every day and we simply cannot guarantee all the information's accuracy." That is perhaps one of the most startlingly blunt admissions we've read when it comes to the accuracy of newspapers. Journalists know this to be true, but it might come as a suprise to readers.

We'll see if Allnutt's letter has any effect on the mistaken lottery winner and his lawyer — and if the media that initially ran his story will follow-up with the Gazettes's response.

From the Montreal Gazette:

Note to Readers

The Gazette made a mistake on Sunday, Aug. 13.

It wasn't the first and won't be the last time we make a faux pas, but this one might rank as the most publicized error we've made in recent times.

A Montreal man has told the media that he thought he held the winning 6/49 ticket of the Saturday, Aug. 12, draw for a few hours based on the numbers published in the Aug. 13 edition of The Gazette.

As most readers know, we publish a long list of lottery winning numbers on Page 2 every Sunday. The list includes a week's worth of numbers and is assembled the previous evening, with the final additions being made after Loto-Quebec posts the numbers drawn Saturday night, including 6/49, at about 10:30. We picked up the Wednesday draw by mistake and ran it twice in the list. Our checks and balances failed and the error wasn't caught.

However, the correct numbers for the 6/49 draw were in The Gazette that day — in Loto-Quebec's ad on Page A7.

We acknowledged the error the next day, Monday, Aug. 14, in a story about the fact that four tickets had the real winning numbers.

We heard from a few readers who worried that they had thrown away tickets that might have had three or four correct numbers, and, as in the past, we reminded people that they must check their tickets with a Loto merchant to be sure.

We also decided at that point to restore a disclaimer that we ran for years, reminding people that the list we publish on Page 2 is not intended to be official. That disclaimer ran on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

At this point we were unaware that Ulysse Maillet had thought he had a winner. In fact, it was our friends at Global TV who called our newsroom administrator on Friday afternoon to say that they were doing a story about Mr. Maillet (they didn't tell us his name at the time) and that they had dealt with a lawyer who said he had sent The Gazette a letter.

But Mr. Maillet and his representatives had been very busy, appearing on TV and radio programs telling the same story over and over. There was, as far as we can ascertain, no effort to contact The Gazette prior to going to other media with the story. I can only conclude that Mr. Maillet's counsel decided to go ahead with a publicity campaign in parallel with any supposed legal action he intends to take.

We have no reason to doubt the sincerity of Mr. Maillet's claim that he had thought for a short while that he had won a lottery. But The Gazette publishes about 100,000 words and numbers every day and we simply cannot guarantee all the information's accuracy. In the last 20 years we have published nine corrections of Loto numbers. I wish I could say it was fewer, but then we have published lottery numbers on about 7,200 mornings in that time period.

When The Gazette makes an error, we correct it and we usually end the correction with a statement of regret. In this case I want to direct that regret to Mr. Maillet and offer him our sincere apologies.

Alan Allnutt
Publisher

Regret The Error

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10 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by weshar75.
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bellyache's avatar - 64x64a9wg

United States
Member #12618
March 18, 2005
2060 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 23, 2006, 3:46 pm - IP Logged

I felt sorry for the guy earlier, but I had no idea that he was going on a bunch of radio and tv programs discussing this. I also thought that he had discussed the issue with the newspaper. I guess he lawyered up pretty fast.

Dance like no one is watching.

    Avatar
    Coastal Georgia
    United States
    Member #2653
    October 30, 2003
    1866 Posts
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    Posted: August 23, 2006, 4:13 pm - IP Logged

    I still maintain my position that he is entitled to nothing.

    Verify the numbers with more than one source before you go off..

    DD

     

                                   

                  

     

     

      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
      mid-Ohio
      United States
      Member #9
      March 24, 2001
      19831 Posts
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      Posted: August 23, 2006, 5:33 pm - IP Logged

      Most official lottery websites have a disclaimer stating their posted results aren't official and while every effort have be made to be correct may still be erroneous because data is entered by hand.  All ticket has to be verified by an official source before being paid.

       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
         
                   Evil Looking       

        justxploring's avatar - villiarna
        Wandering Aimlessly
        United States
        Member #25360
        November 5, 2005
        4461 Posts
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        Posted: August 23, 2006, 6:59 pm - IP Logged

        Agree with DD.  Nobody is entitled to money just because of a print error. Ridiculous! This might not be true, but a long time ago I was on a plane and a couple was explaining to me why they travel all the time and live life to the fullest.  She said in the hospital she'd been diagnosed with HIV because the lab mixed up the test tubes (I guess)  One day she had her T-cells checked and they were completely normal, so she went to a private doctor who told her she was healthy. They never sued the hospital as far as I know. She was just thrilled to know she wasn't going to suffer.

        Anyway, if someone thinks he won the lottery it's irresponsible to change your life at all before checking the numbers on 2 or 3 sources and then waiting to read where the ticket was purchased. Not only would I check them on the internet (LP & state site) but I would make sure the newspaper matched. I might even go to the store and ask for a printout, but certainly wouldn't hint I had the winning ticket. Once there was no doubt that I won, then I'd begin to make plans. We live in a very litigious society.  I wonder if I can sue Todd for all the time I've wasted on Lottery Post because it's more interesting than working or studying. Maybe I'll just sue the entire worldwide web while I'm at it, since my tush hurts from sitting too much.

         Type

          Avatar
          Englewood, Colorado
          United States
          Member #19108
          July 25, 2005
          51 Posts
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          Posted: August 23, 2006, 7:28 pm - IP Logged

          The guy is a total jerk given his behavior. The publisher's letter was very well done and explains exactly how this can happen. Let it go.

            Avatar
            NY
            United States
            Member #23835
            October 16, 2005
            3475 Posts
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            Posted: August 24, 2006, 1:37 am - IP Logged


            This guy is more than just a jerk. The odds are 14 million to one that he's a liar or a complete moron.

            The paper apparently published the correct numbers, but from the previous drawing, so that means the guy played the winning numbers from the previous drawing. That means that when he saw the numbers listed in the paper he knew they were the winning numbers from the previous drawing. Of course those numbers were just as likely to be drawn as any other numbers even if that happened, but how stupid would you have to be to rely on only one source to confirm that the same numbers had really won? FTM, if you thought you had won, wouldn't you check elsewhere for confirmation anyway?

            Of course that all supposes that he really did have a ticket with those numbers, and honestly thought he had won.  An equally likely possibility is that he didn't even buy a ticket with those numbers and is just hoping the paper would throw him a few bucks.

              Avatar

              United States
              Member #26469
              November 18, 2005
              160 Posts
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              Posted: August 24, 2006, 9:31 am - IP Logged

              His lawyer should have told this guy he had no case and.... oh right,he's a lawyer.Talk about looking for a payday.Roll Eyes

                RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                mid-Ohio
                United States
                Member #9
                March 24, 2001
                19831 Posts
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                Posted: August 24, 2006, 10:13 am - IP Logged

                His lawyer should have told this guy he had no case and.... oh right,he's a lawyer.Talk about looking for a payday.Roll Eyes

                His lawyer probably did.  All he's doing is talking about filing.  He hasn't filed or showed the ticket he supposedly bought.  His lawyer probably has advised him of how much BS he can spread before he is likely to be sued.

                  justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                  Wandering Aimlessly
                  United States
                  Member #25360
                  November 5, 2005
                  4461 Posts
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                  Posted: August 24, 2006, 7:28 pm - IP Logged

                  His lawyer probably did.  All he's doing is talking about filing.  He hasn't filed or showed the ticket he supposedly bought.  His lawyer probably has advised him of how much BS he can spread before he is likely to be sued.

                  This article doesn't say what his injuries were, and you can only sue someone if you have damages, right?  Did he quit his job?  I'm just curious in what way he was harmed. Once a woman in Florida won a jackpot after she threw out her ticket because her local paper was wrong, but she was able to retrieve it.  Many people rely on the newspaper.  Regarding those who claim they threw away a ticket with lower-tier prize, I think some might be telling the truth.  Still, the newspaper is not responsible for a misprint.

                    weshar75's avatar - Lottery-042.jpg
                    Mcminnville, Oregon
                    United States
                    Member #3013
                    December 13, 2003
                    3056 Posts
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                    Posted: August 24, 2006, 10:08 pm - IP Logged

                    The newspapers that I have read in the past to get results before I came to the worlds greatest lottery website on the entire web LOTTERY POST.  All had disclaimers under the results of the lottery numbers that they posted.  So maybe this guy is A.Blind.  B.A Golddigger or C. All the above.-weshar75