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'Not so fast,' New Mexico says to would-be lottery winner

By Joseph J. Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Reuters) - A New Mexico man who thought he hit the jackpot with a scratch-off instant lottery ticket will not be getting the $500,000 he believed he had won, after officials determined that matches were due to a printing malfunction, a lottery official said on Tuesday.

New Mexico Lottery spokeswoman Linda Hamlin said the ticket John Wines bought for $20 at a gas station in Roswell, New Mexico, in December was defective. Wines thought he won $500,000, but a scan of the image's barcode said the card, for the Ruby 7s game, was not a winner.

In that game, a player scratches two winning numbers at the top of an 8-inch long card, Hamlin said. The player then has 25 boxes to find a match to one of the winning numbers and learn how much it is worth.

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Hamlin said a blocked ink jet caused one digit of a number to be obscured on Wines' card, leading him to erroneously believe he had won.

“Nowhere in the play area did any of the winning numbers come up,” Hamlin said, adding that lottery security agents reviewed the ticket and compared it with the original image at the printer and determined there was no match.

Wines, who could not immediately be reached for comment, has expressed disappointment with the decision not to pay him what he believed he had won.

“I mean, if you thought you won $500,000 and somebody tells you that you didn’t, and you can prove to them you did, it’s pretty stressful for somebody to say, ‘No you’re not getting your money,’” Wines told local television station KOB, an NBC affiliate.

Hamlin said if the New Mexico Lottery is presented with a winning ticket the agency pays it.

“Last week we had a woman come in with the bottom of a ticket torn off thinking she had won $1,000,” Hamlin said. “Our security staff checked the imprint at the printer, just as what had been done for Mr. Wines, and we discovered she had actually won a $50,000 prize and we wrote her a check right there.”

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Steve Orlofsky)

 
 
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