By Kate Northrop
STATESVILLE, N.C. — A Florida trucker experienced the letdown of his life after his suspicion of a big win was proven wrong by the barcode on his lottery ticket.
Florida resident James Kinard was sure the lottery ticket he bought while passing through North Carolina was a winner, but the good feeling came crashing to a halt when the barcode on the ticket proved it was a false win.
While making a stop in Statesville, Kinard decided to play the North Carolina Lottery's 50X Multiplier game from the family of Fast Play progressive games. Fast Play games are similar to scratch-off games in that the player can find out whether they won immediately after purchase by looking at the winning numbers printed on the ticket or just by scanning the barcode.
"I didn't look at my ticket then and there," Kinard told CBS 17. He tucked the ticket safely away and spent a couple more days on the road before pulling it out again to check it.
That's when he noticed that one of his numbers, "3," appeared to match the "3" under the list of possible winning numbers printed on the ticket.
"I got happy and said 'Hey, hey, hey... thank God... Hey, hey, hey," he recalled as his excitement grew.
Like any lottery winner, Kinard began rationalizing the "win" to figure out for certain how much money he had won.
"I see there was $500 under the '3,'" Kinard recalled. "It's a 50 times multiplier so by my calculations that's $25,000."
Things started to go awry when he tried to check the ticket at a retailer. The clerk he handed the ticket to scanned the ticket, but the barcode brought back a disappointing message.
"[The clerk] looks at it and says, 'hmm — that's supposed to be a winner, but it's not scanning as a winner."
Kinard brought it to the attention of the Asheville lottery office, who in turn kept the original ticket to investigate the matter and gave him a copy of the ticket.
"They told me they did a reconstruct of the ticket and can't tell whether there is supposed to be a number in front of the '3,'" he explained.
Interestingly, Kinard says he recalled that the retailer he originally bought the ticket from in Statesville had issues with printing tickets and had to change printer rolls.
According to Kinard, the ticket wasn't torn or compromised, but there was a mysterious black mark running down the entire length of the ticket on the left edge.
"That's something in the printer," he said. "It wasn't ripped or damaged at all."
Lottery spokesman Van Denton offered a written explanation to CBS 17 to clear the air about what happened.
"The black line that unfortunately runs down the side of the ticket obscures the first winning number and makes it appear as a '3,'" Denton wrote. "However, the Lottery knows this is not a winning ticket because when it scans the bar code, the gaming system shows it as a non-winning ticket. Despite the printing issue, if this ticket had a prize on it, that would be confirmed by scanning the bar code."
What Denton is describing can be illustrated by the obstruction of words in the "WINNING NUMBERS" and "HOW TO WIN" sections of the ticket. The "W" in "WINNING NUMBERS" is smudged to look like a "V'," while the "n" in "number" is completely erased.
"All of these anomalies occur in direct alignment with where the leading digit before the '3' would be, indicating that the 'Winning Number' is not actually a '3,'" Denton continued.
It is not totally clear what the digit in front of the "3" is, but it there appears to be missing digit nonetheless.
"We regret that the printing issue created the impression of a winning ticket when it was not," Denton said. "The Lottery would gladly pay Mr. Kinard a prize if the review had determined it was a legitimate winning ticket."
Unfortunately, that is where Kinard's roller coaster of a "win" comes to an end.
According to the Lottery, there have been instances in the past where they have paid out winnings on damaged tickets.
"It is not uncommon for players to present tickets to the Lottery that have been damaged," Denton clarified. "We perform about 30 such reviews a month and when tickets have been damaged we can do a reconstruction. If we can determine a ticket is a winner, we pay the prize. Ticket reconstructions have paid prizes ranging from $1 to $1 million."
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Thanks to rdgrnr for the tip.