A legal battle brewing over a California lottery ticket shows just how important it is for Powerball, Mega Millions, and other lottery players to protect their tickets. A California man named Brandy Milliner took his fight for a $63 million-winning SuperLotto Plus lottery ticket, operated by the California State Lottery, to court. According to legal filings, Milliner purchased the winning ticket on August 8, 2015, and matched the winning numbers: 1, 16, 30, 33, 46, and a Mega Ball 24. After he won, he turned in his winning ticket and received confirmation of his win, including information on how he could receive his winnings. Now, he states the California Lottery is changing their tune, saying that the lottery ticket he submitted was damaged, therefore they won’t honor it. Brandy Milliner argues that the California Lottery is the one who damaged the ticket, and refuses to send the ticket back to him when he asked for it.
Milliner states he received the following letter from the California State Lottery, before they rejected his winning lottery ticket as damaged. Milliner states that he sent them the original ticket when they approved it and congratulated him for the win.
“Congratulations on your winnings. You will get your check in the mail 6 to 8 weeks from the State Controller’s Office. If for some reason, you don’t receive it after 2 months, call 1-800-568-8379, and press “0” to check status on your check. In January 2016 you will receive a W2-G form (when you file taxes). “
The lawsuit also points out that the California State Lottery made an announcement that a winning ticket had been sold in Los Angeles County, and Brandy Milliner purchased his ticket in Los Angeles County. The deadline for a winner to come forward and claim the jackpot is 5 p.m. PT. If no one comes forward to claim the winning jackpot, the money will be forfeited to the California Department of Education as part of its lottery revenue. That is, unless Milliner’s lawsuit goes to trial and a judge rules Milliner is the rightful winner of the $63 million. If Milliner’s ticket wasn’t the winning one, why hasn’t another winner come forward?
— Adrian Arambulo (@AdrianNBCLA) February 4, 2016
After the California lottery accepted Milliner’s SuperLotto ticket, he received further contact from the California Lottery in January 2016. The letter stated that he would not be winning any money. The letter reads as follows.
“The lottery has completed the review of the ticket submitted. The ticket was too damaged to be reconstructed. Per the following the lottery is unable to process your claim. (California Lottery Act, Article 3, Section 8880.321 (b) state in part:…No Prize may be paid arising from tickets or shares that are stolen, counterfeit, altered, fraudulent, unissued, produced or issued in error, not received or not recorded by the Lottery by applicable deadlines…) If you have any other questions regarding the Lottery, please call our Customer Service division at 1-800-568-8379 or you can contact our TDD message center at 1-800-345-4275.”
— California Lottery (@calottery) February 2, 2016
According to the lawsuit, Milliner repeatedly requested his payment, and the return of his winning SuperLotto ticket, but the California State Lottery refused both. The lawsuit states that no one else has come forward to claim the $63 million because Brandy Milliner actually had the winning ticket, but the California Lottery took that ticket and is refusing to honor it. This would be the largest unpaid jackpot in California history.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 3, 2016
This case serves as a cautionary tale for regular players of the Powerball, Mega Millions, and other lottery games. As soon as you purchase a ticket, you should sign the back of it. If you do have a winning ticket, you might find it worthwhile to photograph your ticket. Just in case someone at the lottery did somehow damage your ticket, then try to say it was damaged when received. Maybe it wouldn’t hold up in court, but who knows. Maybe if you have proof that the ticket was in good condition when sent to the lottery’s claim center, you’ll have more recourse if found in the same situation as Brandy Milliner.
What do you think about this case? Do you believe Brandy Milliner had a winning ticket and that the California Lottery is refusing to pay? What’s your take?
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