You've been meaning to buy some reading glasses for a while, but hey - your eyesight's just fine most times.
Until you tried to read your lottery ticket in front of the tv. Was that a 6 or an 8?
Turns out it was a winning 8, but you'd already screwed up your ticket and binned it.
After the shock discovery, you rushed to the trash and smoothed out your crumpled ticket.
No good, it looked a mess and probably won't go through the lottery machine.
Aha! Here's what you'll do... you'll iron it flat.
That was your big mistake. A couple of seconds under the iron and to your shock the ticket is totally black... everything has disappeared on it.
It turns black because the tickets are actually made from thermal paper – the same found in till receipt machines. This means that tickets are printed by applying heat to the paper rather than ink.
So, as some lotto players have discovered, when you apply heat to the entire ticket and turns it black... this can cause problems if you have won!
And unfortunately it happened to a $48.8 million Texas Lottery ticket in 2010.
While the identity of the man who won the prize in Alvin, Texas remains unknown to the public, a report released by the Texas Lottery Commission shows the extraordinary steps the agency took to verify the ticket's authenticity after it was damaged.
The H-E-B store, Alvin, Texas, where a lottery player bought a $48.8M winning ticket.
The mystery man purchased his Texas Lottery ticket from a self-service machine at the H-E-B Pantry grocery store (now closed) in Alvin, where he was shopping with his wife and two children, the report shows.
But after he became the sole winner of the jackpot on Oct. 21, he waited to see whether the commission would really pay up.
A thermal lottery ticket printer.
That's when his problem began. He placed his winning ticket in a laser printer to type an endorsement on the back. But the heat generated by the printer turned the data on the front of the ticket black.
In December the ticket holder presented the damaged ticket — along with a second, non-winning lottery ticket purchased at the same time and place — to the commission to claim his money.
The Lottery Operations Division's Security Department did forensic exams and verification efforts on the ticket, while the agency's Enforcement Division investigated the facts surrounding its purchase and damage.
A lottery store in Texas.
Forensics analysis found some data still visible on the damaged ticket, including a partial retailer number, but some digits on the ticket were missing. They persevered however.
"Other than the damage to the front of the ticket making portions unreadable, visual inspection did not reveal any inconsistencies or evidence that should not have been present on a ticket for the prize claim," the commission's report states.
The ticket holder also handed over photos of the winning ticket that he had taken before it was damaged, even though photos are not by themselves 'acceptable evidence' to submit instead of an actual ticket as a claim for the lottery prize, the report shows.
But the ticket data visible in the pictures were consistent with the ticket data reconstructed by forensic analysts.
Security camera pictures like this one are useful to provide evidence of a lottery ticket purchase.
Enforcement investigators also viewed H-E-B's security camera recordings showing the man buying the ticket at the time the transaction was recorded on the central computer system.
They also examined a receipt showing the ticket holder's purchase of groceries at the store around the same time. Furthermore, the tear line between the damaged winning ticket and the non-damaged ticket he purchased matched, investigators found.
Security officials then performed a query for all transactions recorded on the self-service machine at the H-E-B on the date of purchase. They found only two of the 12 transactions made on the machine that day were for wagers, both being for Lotto Texas tickets.
The serial number for the first transaction matched the non-winning ticket submitted by the purchaser, while the winning ticket was purchased eight seconds later, the report shows.
Investigators also found the serial numbers found on the back of the tickets indicated the roll stock paper used was assigned to an H-E-B store 9 miles away in nearby Santa Fe.
Representatives for both H-E-B retailers confirmed the roll stock paper had been transferred from the Santa Fe store to the Alvin store when the latter location ran out of paper for its self-service lottery ticket machine.
On May 3 — more than six months after the ticket's purchase — the commission agreed to pay the money to the ticket holder.
Although the total jackpot was for $76 million, the winner collected $48,877,977.02 because he had chosen the 'Cash Value Option,' allowing him to collect a lesser amount in one lump sum instead of opting for a 25-year payout.
Source: Houston Chronicle