The Christmas miracle that wasn’t. Last year on Christmas Day, lottery dispensers at convenience stores and gas stations across South Carolina started doing something remarkable. For two hours they spewed out winning tickets of up to $500 like candy. Lottery officials quickly figured out the problem, and cashiers began seeing the message, “transaction not allowed,” when customers went to collect their prizes, reports the Washington Post. But before the bonanza was over, 71,000 of the $1 Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets had been dispensed, with the errant prize money totaling about $35 million. So, what happens to all the winning tickets that were rejected? They are worth exactly $1, the state lottery board announced on Wednesday. The winners will not get their prize money, but they can get a refund.
After a five-month investigation, lottery officials found the problem was caused by coding errors, reports NPR. The officials say Intralot, a Greece-based ticket vendor, did not run proper testing procedures before releasing the game. "While [the state lottery] is mindful of the magnitude of this decision on its players, any other decision would not comply with the law,” officials said, per the New York Times. Players holding winning tickets are not happy. Nicole Coggins, who thought she had won $18,000, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the lottery commission and the vendor, one of two lawsuits that have been filed, according to the Post. “We think it’s a breach of contract if the commission decided to deny them their rightful winnings,” her lawyer says. "It's not fair," Coggins tells the Times. "It's not right." (Read more lottery stories.)