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They Thought They’d Won $35 Million in the Lottery. Why These South Carolinians Are Getting $1 Each Instead

A lot of people in South Carolina are furious after they won significant cash in a state lottery’s seasonal Holiday Cash Add-a-Play game, only to receive nothing but the $1 ticket price.

For two hours on Christmas Day last year, the lottery systems issued a load of what seemed like winning tickets. However, the South Carolina Education Lottery suspended the game, saying its computer system vendor, Intralot (IRLTY), had messed up.

Those who cashed in their winning tickets right away got their payouts, totalling around $1.7 million. However, those who hung onto their tickets weren’t so lucky.

On Wednesday, the lottery confirmed Intralot’s programming error and asked people to send in their slips for reimbursement of the ticket price.

According to a New York Times article on the snafu, South Carolina Education Lottery would have had to pay out $35 million, if it weren’t for the fact that state law says lotteries don’t need to do so when the ticket was “produced or issued in error.”

“While SCEL is mindful of the magnitude of this decision on its players, any other decision would not comply with the law,” the lottery reportedly said in a statement—its website is, for some reason, down at the time of writing.

The lottery has switched computing vendors since the incident, opting instead for International Game Technology, but it says the new vendor had already been chosen before, as Intralot’s contract was expiring.

South Carolina Education Lottery has now asked Intralot to repay the money that was incorrectly paid out, and there are two lawsuits targeting the lottery and its ex-vendor.