Mega Millions mystery; more duplicate tickets found

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- Lori Strub and her co-workers have a set of matching Mega Millions tickets, and they are not the only ones.

In fact, they're the second group in less than a week to come to 3 On Your Side complaining of duplicate numbers.

Rick Flores works with Strub and is one of the 18 co-workers who pooled their money and bought 180 Quick Pick tickets for last Friday’s record jackpot drawing.

It wasn't until after the drawing that Flores discovered, like the people in our previous report, all 10 rows of numbers were identical.

“First, it was kind of like, ‘Well, now I know what happened to them,’” Flores told 3 On Your Side.  “Then, after a while we just kind of felt cheated.”

In 3 On Your Side's initial report, we told you about duplicate tickets that Jan Bleichroth had bought.

She and employees at her Phoenix transmission shop bought 145 Mega Millions Lottery tickets
using Quick Pick, a system that's supposed to randomly select your numbers for you.

A closer look at their numbers reveal they are all the same -- row after row.

Bleichroth believed the odds of getting identical numbers were astronomical. Thinking something was wrong, she emailed 3 On Your Side.

“Is this totally random? It has a lot of us talking about that,” Bleichroth said.   “How random is the lottery? How legitimate is the lottery? How uncorrupted is the lottery?”

Jeff Hatch-Miller is the executive director for the Arizona Lottery.  He now says the situation is not isolated like he initially told us.

“What's happened is there is a software glitch,” Hatch-Miller told 3 On Your Side.  “Anybody that has a computer knows that sometimes there are software glitches.”

Hatch-Miller says a company called G-Tech, which operates lottery terminals in 26 states, has pin-pointed the glitch, which happened when cashiers use the "repeat" key to automatically fill purchases of 30 tickets or more.

“It only occurred about once in every 300,000 to 500,000 times, so very rarely,” Hatch-Miller explained.

Hatch-Miller says G-Tech, known as the "Architects of Gaming," has corrected the software code that caused the glitch.
He showed us how tests mimicking what caused the problem are being run to make sure what he describes as a “hiccup” doesn't happen again.

“I'm really sorry that this occurred obviously,” Hatch-Miller said.  “We would never want it to occur.”

The software update to fix the glitch went into effect overnight.

Out of 3.5 million Quick Pick tickets sold this year, Hatch-Miller says 13 duplicates were printed in Arizona, and one was printed in the state of Washington.

G-Tech says it is in the process of notifying the other 26 states it operates in about the problem.

The Arizona Lottery says customers who received duplicates can exchange them for new ones.