Lottery ‘winner’ who was given $75 instead of $75,000 was undercover inspector

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PALMDALE, Calif. — A Palmdale gas station is under investigation after a worker shorted the ‘winner’ of a $75,000 lottery ticket by paying him only $75.

Turns out, the ‘winner’ was actually a state inspector with the California Lottery.

The gas station maintains that the worker accidentally shorted the ‘winner’ and didn’t realize it until after he left the store.

“He feels so bad,” said Chevron station manager Shamsun Islam, referring to the clerk involved.

Islam said California Lottery officials were immediately contacted after the alleged mix-up, and that lottery officials said someone would come by to pick up the ticket.

After several weeks when no one appeared, the station released video of the man to several Los Angeles-area news outlets, in an effort to find the man and pay him the remainder of the $75,000 prize.

Taken from behind the register, the video shows a man in a brown short-sleeved shirt and a backwards baseball cap waiting as the clerk examines the ‘winning ticket’ and hands over cash.

Russell Lopez, a spokesman for the California Lottery, confirmed that the ‘winner’ — the man shown in the surveillance video — is an undercover investigator who was actually at the gas station on an inspection stop.

There was no real “winner,” Lopez said.

The inspector had turned in a ticket for the top prize in the Wild West Poker Scratchers game. Players have a one in 1,196,120 chance of winning the $75,000 prize, according to the lottery’s website for the game.

No determination has been made as to the intent of the gas station clerk or manager, Lopez said. He told the Los Angeles Times that officials were trying to determine if authorities were ever notified about the ticket, and if any fraud was committed.

Until Shamsun went public with the surveillance video, officials had been waiting to see if anyone would try to file a claim on the $75,000, the Times reported.

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