Dozens Who Thought They Had a Lottery Holiday Miracle May Have Been Deceived

January 1, 2018 Updated: January 1, 2018

Nicole Coggins of Liberty, South Carolina, said she had a gut feeling that she should play the lottery on Christmas Day.

“I don’t play the lottery that much. Every once in a while, I’ll buy a Powerball ticket, but something told me to buy a lottery ticket,” she told NBC affiliate WYFF.

“I was having a good day and I wanted to try it.”

She bought a Holiday Cash ticket and paid an extra dollar to add a play.

Her gut feeling turned out to be right—she won $500.

Just to see if her luck would hold, she bought another one.

It did, and again it was a winner.

“And it was another winner and another winner. So I thought, ‘Well, maybe there is something wrong with their machine. This can’t be real,'” she told WYFF.

She went to several gas stations to try different machines, and after her luck held, she started calling friends and family to tell them what had happened and encouraged them to try.

She also told her children she was going to take them to Disney World with her new pot of cash.

“I had been promising them for years and I thought I would finally get to,” she said.

Her mother-in-law Shawanna Ladd tried it—and the winning streak carried over to her as well.

Together they spent about $100 on the tickets and won about $18,000.

Or so they thought.

When they went to cash the tickets, the cashier got an error message when he tried to validate them.

“It told him ‘transaction not allowed,’ that the game was not valid,” Coggins told WYFF.

And she wasn’t the only one crushed by that news.

A manager at a retailer that has the machines said dozens of people heard about the easy wins and rushed to buy tickets before the machines stopped issuing tickets.

On Dec. 27, the South Carolina Education Lottery issued the following statement:

“The South Carolina Education Lottery’s computer system vendor, Intralot, experienced a programming error on Christmas Day that impacted Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets, a $1 terminal-generated instant game.

“From 5:51 p.m. to 7:53 p.m., the same play symbol was repeated in all nine available play areas on tickets, which would result in a top prize of $500.

“No more than five identical play symbols should appear for a single play.

“As soon as the issue was identified, the Add-A-Play game was suspended immediately to conduct a thorough investigation. Instant (scratch) tickets and all other lottery games were not affected by this error.

“Holiday Cash Add-A-Play game sales and validations will remain suspended until further notice.”

It advised anyone who bought a winning Holiday Cash Add-A-Play ticket on Christmas Day during the time period affected to hold on to their ticket until the investigation is completed.

While the jury’s still out as to whether the dozens of people with winning tickets will get a holiday miracle, they did get good news on Dec. 29—the South Carolina Board of Commissioner agreed to set aside $19.6 million, the amount of winning tickets with nine Christmas trees in the Holiday Cash Add-A-Play.


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