On May 10th, a significant mistake was made in the announcement for the night’s Mega Millions drawing. As the gold Mega Ball dropped into the chamber, host John Crow made an innocent, but impactful mistake by calling the number 6, rather than the correct number 9.
Eyet Law’s Matthew Eyet was invited to appear on ABC 7 NY to weigh in on whether the State of New York is obligated to or likely to absorb the cost of paying out winners with the mistakenly called number 6 as the Mega Ball.
The May 10th lottery drawing
As the Mega Millions drawing unfolded on the night of May 10th, the first five numbers were called correctly as usual—but as the sixth “Mega Ball” dropped into the chamber, a mistake was made in the broadcast. The golden Mega Ball was a 9, clearly differentiated from a 6 by a line beneath the number, but host John Crow misread the ball and announced that the night’s Mega Ball number was 6. This mistake was also repeated in the broadcast’s graphics, which displayed a 6 as the Mega Ball number.
Although there were no grand prize winners with either a 6 or 9 as the Mega Ball number, there were two $10,000 jackpots with a 6 Mega Ball number, as well as nearly 30,000 other players with smaller prizes totaling almost $130,000. In response to the error, the New York Lottery temporarily suspended all prize payments for Mega Millions tickets.
Eyet Law’s Matthew Eyet responds
Appearing on ABC 7 NY, Matthew Eyet of Eyet Law explained that Mega Millions players with a Mega Ball number of 6 were unlikely to have legal recourse. This is because of a written regulation specifying that the correct numbers are the numbers drawn, rather than the numbers that are reported. While this regulation was likely created in anticipation of a clerical transcription error, Eyet believes that the regulation still applies in the case of the wrong number being announced in a broadcast.
Mega Millions players with a 6 Mega Ball number on their tickets may still have some reason for hope, however. Citing to the broad discretionary authority granted to the Gaming Commission, Eyet believes there’s a possibility that the State of New York could invoke such power to absorb the cost and pay out prize money to players who would have won if the 6 had been drawn. From the State’s perspective, it may be better to absorb the cost rather than undermine faith in the lottery system, which could lead to lower earnings for the New York Lottery over time.
Hold on to your tickets
No official decision has been made regarding the drawing, but the New York Lottery has advised any players to hold onto their May 10th Mega Millions tickets for the time being. Whether the State will choose to pay prize money to winners with the mistaken number remains to be seen.
For the full report, check out Matthew Eyet’s appearance on ABC 7 NY here.