STATESVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A long-haul trucker who purchased a lottery ticket while passing through North Carolina thought he won big bucks, but although the ticket looks like a winner, the bar code didn’t agree. James Kinard, from Florida, had stopped in Statesville and decided to play the 50X Multiplier Game, which is part of the North Carolina Education Lottery’s family of “Fast Play Progressive Games.” In such games, the tickets are printed immediately with possible winning numbers, allowing players to check for winners instantly.

“I didn’t look at my ticket then and there,” Kinard said. But after a couple of days on the road, he pulled out the 50X Multiplier Game and decided to check.

“I got happy and said, ‘Hey, hey, hey! … Thank God!'” Kinard said.

What Kinard saw among the possible winning numbers was the number 3. When he checked to see if any matched up, he saw another 3.

“I see there was $500 under the 3. It’s a 50-times multiplier, so by my calculations, that’s $25,000,” he said.

When he tried to cash the ticket, however, the bar code alerted the clerk that something was off.

“She looks at it and says, ‘Hmm, that’s supposed to be a winner, but it’s not scanning as a winner,'” said Kinard.

(NC Education Lottery)

The Asheville lottery office was informed of the issue. Officials made a copy of the ticket and gave it to Kinard. They kept the original.

“They told me they did a reconstruct of the ticket and can’t tell whether there is supposed to be a number in front of the 3,” he said.

Kinard said the outlet where he purchased the ticket had trouble printing it, and had to change printer rolls during the purchase. This left a black mark running the length of the ticket on the left side, the printed copy shows. This mark also turned out to be the key to the mystery.

“That’s something in the printer,” Kinard said. “[The ticket] wasn’t ripped or damaged at all.”

In a written statement, lottery spokesman Van Denton offered an explanation of what happened after the lottery conducted a second review of the ticket.

“The black line that unfortunately runs down the side of the ticket obscures the first winning number and makes it appear as a ‘3,’” Denton said.

Denton added that the line caused a smudge that cut off parts of the print down the length of the ticket. The bar code remained intact, which is why a scan confirmed it was a non-winning ticket.

“The lottery certainly understands Mr. Kinard’s question about this ticket. We regret that the printing issue created the impression of a winning ticket when it was not,” Denton wrote. “The lottery would gladly pay Mr. Kinard a prize if the review had determined it was a legitimate winning ticket.”

Denton said it’s not uncommon for players to present damaged tickets to the lottery. He said the lottery does about 30 reviews a month to verify, adding that damaged tickets can be reconstructed.

“If we can determine a ticket is a winner, we pay the prize,” Denton wrote. “Ticket reconstructions have paid prizes ranging from $1 to $1 million.”

He added: “The lottery does not like to deny paying prizes, but can only pay prizes that are actually won in order to have the funds necessary to pay winning tickets and provide the funds to support education in North Carolina.”