A California man is suing the state lottery for refusing to pay his $5m jackpot because his 16-year-old son bought the ticket.
This week, Long Beach resident Ward Thomas sued the California State Lottery Commission for denying him a $5m jackpot he won from a $20 Scratchers ticket last year. Thomas is also suing the owners of the gas station where the winning ticket was purchased.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas went to the Los Altos Mobil station last October with his 16-year-old son Benjamin. Thomas asked his son to go inside and redeem a dozen winning scratch tickets worth a total of $330. Thomas also asked his son to pick up some more Scratchers with the winnings.
Benjamin did as he was told, buying five new Scratchers and taking the balance of the original winnings in cash, while his father waited outside. When Thomas and his son got home, they scratched the tickets and discovered one was a $5m winner.
Thomas validated the ticket at a local 7-Eleven that same night, and revalidated the ticket at a Lottery district office the following day. The Commission duly informed him that, yes, he was $5m richer.
But the Commission changed its tune by December 5, informing Thomas that he was owed squat due to the Commission having learned that it was Benjamin who purchased the ticket in violation of California law, which restricts lottery activity to individuals 18 years or older.
Thomas’ suit alleges that at no time did the Mobil station clerk ask Benjamin for proof of age, nor did anyone tell Benjamin that he couldn’t act as his father’s agent in purchasing the Scratchers. Thomas alleges that the Lottery was essentially free-rolling by allowing its agent to sell his son a ticket with no intention of paying out any winnings.
Whether or not Thomas’ suit is successful, it must keep him up at night knowing that the whole kerfuffle could have been avoided if he’d just gone into the store himself. Moral of the story: never send a boy to do a man’s job.