Annie Collier loves to play the lottery. She has a ritual of buying tickets each week and playing certain numbers.
Occasionally, she'll hit.
Last Thursday, Annie's lotto tickets were piled in her purse. She bought them earlier in the week and didn't even pay attention to what the numbers were.
Talk about lucky!
On Valentine's Day, Annie love for lotto paid off big. She won $800.
Annie's son called to share the good news. "My son had called me and told me, 'Mom, you know that 3131 came', and I said, 'Uh uh, you joking'. He said, 'Yes it did, I'm looking at the print out right now,'" Annie said.
Annie couldn't wait to get to her favorite Publix store in Bartow to collect her winnings. When she went to the lotto clerk, Annie handed her the ticket.
Since she won more than $600, Annie was told she would now have to drive to Tampa to get the money. So, Monday afternoon, Annie went to the lottery office.
She got some bad news.
The ticket she had was only a receipt. It wasn't the original winning ticket. She thought the clerk had given her the original ticket, but it was actually a continuation ticket. In addition, she was given a receipt showing that she had won.
But, the lottery officials wanted the original and she didn't have it.
Annie said, "I said, 'What, just like that?' You know, I was shocked that wasn't the ticket. I left there and came back to Publix."
Annie claims when she went back to Publix, they gave her even more bad news. They told her a cashier accidentally threw the ticket away.
Annie's niece, Contina Williams, said, "The manager came out and said there's nothing they can do because they're not liable. But if it was his cashier that just didn't give the ticket back, that makes them liable."
We spoke with Publix officials who issued this statement, "Our loss prevention unit is looking into the matter as to what happened with the lottery ticket. Once we have the results of our investigation, we will handle the situation."
Annie says she's disappointed with what she calls "bad treatment" by Publix management. She says the store manager told her never to come into his store again when she asked him for the cashier's name who threw away her lottery ticket.
Annie says she'll keep playing lottery, but she's not sure she'll go back to this Publix again.
Thanks to BobP for the tip.