Dennis Perry said he doesn't want to sound ungrateful after winning $10,000 in a Tennessee Lottery drawing last weekend, but the Fayetteville, Tenn., man said mistakes during the drawing might have cost him the $1 million top prize.
''I'm happy for what I won, it's just that I don't think it was fair the way it was played,'' said Perry, a 57-year-old disabled veteran. ''There's a big difference between $10,000 and $1 million.''
Lottery spokeswoman Kym Gerlock said Perry's complaint would be investigated.
She declined to say whether the game, which was televised statewide Saturday, was played by the rules until lottery officials look into the matter. Gerlock also said she didn't know what would happen if lottery officials determine that the game was played incorrectly.
''I'm sorry Mr. Perry is unhappy, but we will certainly look into any complaints we get,'' Gerlock said. She declined to comment further.
Perry's complaint boils down to this:
The rules stated that contestants would randomly pick an envelope that would either award them $10,000 or send them to the next round. The envelopes were attached to a wheel that was spun to mix them up.
But when another contestant, Bridget Magers-Elliott, spun the wheel, drawing announcer John Dwyer, a sportscaster for WKRN-TV, told her to take the envelope that was closest to where a pointer on the wheel landed.
Dwyer then told the third contestant, Mark Silor who won the $1 million to take the envelope next to that one, and Perry took the remaining envelope. Attempts yesterday to reach Dwyer were not successful.
That series of dvents, Perry says, violated the spirit of the rules, which called for a random choice.
An attorney for Perry, Raymond Fraley of Fayetteville, said the rules clearly state that the envelopes were to be picked randomly by the contestants and not selected by the announcer according to where the wheel stopped.
''It wasn't played right, there's no question about it,'' Fraley said.
Fraley said Magers-Elliott also has contacted him about the apparent mistake and he could file a lawsuit in the case as early as today.
Magers-Elliott and Silor could not be reached for comment.
The drawing featured several games of chance that led to the top prize.
Magers-Elliott, 34, of Stantonville, Tenn., won the right to spin the wheel by selecting a balloon that contained a card with three stars on it. Silor, 35, of Knoxville had two stars, so he picked the second envelope, and Perry, with one star, took the remaining envelope.
They then opened the envelopes. Perry drew the $10,000 prize, and Magers-Elliot and Silor moved on to the final phase.
Another set of envelopes appeared, and inside each was a card with a pattern similar to a scratch-off ticket. One card had three matching sets that read ''three entries.''
Silor had the ''three entries'' card and was allowed to pick one of two gold stars from the wheel. Magers-Elliott then took the remaining star.
As they stood on the stage holding their stars, they peeled off the backs of the stars to reveal their prizes. Silor got the top prize, and Magers-Elliott won $25,000.
If the game had been played by the rules, according to Perry, Magers-Elliott would have picked any envelope she wanted from the wheel, and that could have changed the outcome of the drawing.
Perry said he also is upset that Magers-Elliott spun the wheel twice, and the second time it didn't revolve the minimum number of three times. The announcer told her to spin again when the wheel landed between two envelopes on the first try.
But Perry said it didn't matter where the wheel stopped. The spin was intended only to mix up the envelopes, not to determine which one Magers-Elliott picked.
''On the wheel part, the girl was only supposed to spin one time,'' said Perry's wife, Rose. ''In the rules, they told us the envelopes just had to be mixed, and they told us it had to go around three times.''