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Cashier Causes $1 Million Lottery Mistake

11/14/2011 09:34 PM ET

$1 Million Lottery Mistake - Robert Thibodaux Sr., of Thibodaux, Louisiana, on Thursday claimed a $1 million Powerball prize at the Louisiana lottery headquarters, an amount five times greater than it would have been had a clerk not mistakenly upgraded his ticket, he said.

“I’m a lucky person — I won a lot of money. But this lady who sold me the ticket is a big part of this,” Thibodaux said Thursday at Louisiana Lottery headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Thibodaux, 70, matched five numbers in the October 29 drawing but missed the Powerball number, Louisiana lottery officials said. Ordinarily, that would win a $200,000 prize.

But when he bought that and a second Powerball ticket at a Shop Rite in Thibodaux, a cashier mistakenly added the Power Play option to both, he said. That option, which cost Thibodaux $1 extra per ticket, multiplies non-jackpot prizes by up to five times.

He paid the extra $2 for his tickets. The day after the drawing, his wife told him he matched five numbers, and he figured he won thousands of dollars. But he didn’t have time to check, because he needed to visit a relative at a nursing home.

When he returned, several family members were waiting for him, he said.

“My son told me, ‘Daddy, you won $200,000, but you won it five times,’” Thibodaux said, according to the state lottery. “I was like an engine at full steam.” He told CNN affiliate WGNO last week about his win and the mistake, but lottery officials wouldn’t confirm his story until he arrived at lottery headquarters with the ticket on Thursday.

Lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Chopin said cashiers cannot cancel tickets even if they make a mistake, such as printing a $2 Power Play ticket instead of a $1 regular Powerball ticket. So, if Thibodaux had refused the ticket, the cashier would have had to sell it to someone else or buy it herself. “Sometimes mistakes are a good thing,” she said of Thibodaux’s win.

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