Excitement and joy turned to anger and frustration Wednesday as dozens of people expecting to collect lottery winnings instead left the South Carolina Education Lottery offices empty handed.
“I was banking on (this money),” said Bridget Castrillon, 26, of Orangeburg. “I could pay my bills at the end of the year.”
Holding her 4-month-old daughter, Castrillon said she drove to Columbia to collect the winnings from several Add-A-Play tickets she bought Christmas Day.
“They’re telling me it’s under investigation, to watch the news and come back Friday,” she said. “It could have helped me a lot. It could have paid off my bills. Having a new baby, I just moved into a new place. I really was banking on this money.”
State lottery officials say a “programming error” with the lottery’s computer vendor, Intralot, affected the Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets on Christmas Day.
From 5:51 p.m. to 7:53 p.m. Monday, the same play symbol was repeated in all nine available play areas on tickets, which would result in a top prize of $500, officials have said. No more than five identical play symbols should appear for a single play.
Lottery spokeswoman Holli Armstrong said Wednesday that they are still investigating the issue and will have more information Friday.
Berry Pickens, 29, took the day off from work to drive down from Anderson County to collect the $10,000 his winning “Add-A-Play” tickets said he was owed. His wife, Katherine, who is pregnant with their fourth child, came with him.
The couple said they bought 50 tickets on Christmas Day at two stores in Pelzer and Belton. Of those, 10 were winning tickets.
“I got a child on the way, I’ve got three kids at home,” he said. “... This right here was really gonna help me out to buy my house, support my family, put back for college and all of that.”
The Pickenses were disappointed to leave empty handed but said they are more upset with the agency’s handling of the snafu.
“I’ve got losing tickets too, in the middle of the winning tickets,” said Charleston resident Mike Cofield, 32. “So how is it a glitch if I’ve got losing ones?”
There was no word Wednesday on how many winning tickets were generated, or whether those with winning tickets would collect any prize money. The South Carolina Education Lottery is telling players who purchased “Add-A-Play” tickets on Christmas Day during the affected time period to hold on to their tickets until a review is completed.