Congratulations! You’re a lottery winner!
That was what some ticket buyers in Iowa thought after Monday night’s Powerball drawing. About seven hours later, lottery staff members realized their mistake: They had reported the wrong winning numbers.
The wrong numbers were posted statewide from about 12:30 a.m. to 7:15 a.m., lottery officials said, before they were taken down. The cashing and checking of tickets from the drawing were suspended Tuesday as officials worked to correct the results. By 3:30 that afternoon, the correct winning numbers were posted, and the real winners could cash in their prizes.
Iowa is one of 45 states, along with Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that participate in the Powerball lottery, and the correct numbers were posted on the Powerball website and by other state lotteries.
But “winners” who presented their tickets in those early hours were able to cash in. It was unclear how many people did so, but there were no mistaken overnight millionaires: Prizes for the wrong results ranged from $4 to $200.
“We at the Iowa Lottery sincerely apologize for the interruption,” officials said Wednesday.
They blamed a “human reporting error” for the episode.
After the lottery’s drawing, two people in separate locations enter the results to be recorded on the state’s gaming system. The system connects to every lottery terminal and self-service kiosk in the state. But some of the numbers were “entered incorrectly,” the officials said.
Under the winning numbers, 3,998 plays in Monday’s drawing won prizes, also ranging from $4 to $200, for a total of $24,382. The total value of the Powerball was estimated to be $400 million.
The error did not affect any other lottery drawings, the Iowa Lottery said. Eight prizes of at least $1 million have been won this year in the state, with some still remaining unclaimed.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.