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Mega Millions mistake: NY Lottery temporarily pauses payments after ‘human error’

Mega Millions pauses payouts after host announces the wrong number. (Source: WABC/ GEORGIA LOTTERY CORPORATION/CNN)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:53 AM MDT
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NEW YORK (WABC) - Mega Millions temporarily suspended prize payments after a mega mistake during a drawing in New York.

It happened Tuesday night when the host mistakenly called the wrong number.

It looked like any other televised Mega Millions drawing with an $86 million jackpot at stake. The five winning numbers were drawn normally.

But a closer look revealed instead of the six that was announced, the actual number is a nine, the digit on the ping-pong ball underlined to avoid confusion.

Not only did announcer John Crow repeat the error, the six was displayed graphically onscreen.

“I would definitely be mad. I would definitely be mad. But I don’t know how they’re going to work that out,” lottery player Ingrid Campbell said.

That is the question. Even Wednesday’s New York Lottery printout of winning numbers lists six as the Mega Ball, though the official page of the multistate lottery correctly lists nine.

So do players with a Mega Ball of six have any recourse?

Not really, said attorney Matthew Eyet, because of a regulation on the books that says, “The correct numbers are the ones that are drawn, not the numbers that were reported. And so they anticipated this as a possibility, probably because they thought a clerical error would occur in just transcribing what the number was, not that the announcer would call out the wrong number. But, be that as it may, it still, in my opinion, would apply in this case.”

There were no grand prize winners with either six or nine as the Mega Ball.

In New York, there were two $10,000 prizes with a six. There were 30,000 other players with smaller jackpots totaling nearly $130,000.

Would the state absorb that cost? Possibly, Eyet said.

“It’s not good for the game from the state’s perspective if people are going around feeling slighted by the state,” he said. “So yeah, they could absolutely pay out those people if they wanted.”

In a statement, New York Lottery cited human error, adding the lottery has temporarily suspended prize payments for all Mega Millions tickets and all Mega Millions players should hold on to their tickets for the May 10 drawing until the issue is resolved.

Mega Millions is played in 45 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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