WASHINGTON -- Ardella Newman thought she hit it big.
On Aug. 22, Newman purchased a $2 scratch-off ticket that matched the number 16, making it worth $20,000.
"When I saw that $20,000, you don't know how excited I was," she told WJLA.
However, lottery officials told her there had been a big mistake and the ticket was issued in error.
Lottery experts say a normal ticket has the winning numbers on the top. Newman's ticket had the winning numbers listed on the bottom, meaning the machine may have cut the ticket in the wrong spot.
Officials with the store where the ticket was purchased said only trained lottery officials are allowed to load the machines.
"I want the money that I thought I won. If you look at the ticket, it says I won this money. It wasn't anything that I did wrong. It's what they did wrong," she said.
Newman has filed a complaint with the Virginia Lottery.
The Virginia Lottery issued the following statement:
This matter is still under investigation by our Audit & Security Department, but here's what we know: What the woman presented to us was not actually a single ticket, but parts of two tickets. One ticket was cut off near the top, and the corresponding top of a different ticket was still attached at the perforation.
The ticket with the top cut off contained a fully intact barcode and validation code, both of which clearly indicated that it's not a winning ticket. However, she apparently took the number on the top of the ticket below the perforation, and applied it to the larger ticket, to "mix and match" the numbers on two separate tickets and claim it as a single winning ticket.
We can not award a prize for a non-winning ticket. Additionally, we can not take parts of two tickets to create one winning ticket.
We certainly understand it can be frustrating to think you have a winning ticket, only to find out that it’s not. Among other things, we’re looking into whether it was the Lottery self-service machine that cut off the top of the ticket and gave her parts of two tickets. Our investigator is in touch with the player and we hope to resolve this issue soon with a formal result. The integrity of our products is critical and we take this complaint seriously.