COLUMBIA, SC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The lottery tickets look like winners but a number of people in South Carolina are being told they're not so lucky.
"These are all the winning tickets I have," said Tony Berry, 43, from Columbia, SC. "$29,000 worth."
South Carolina Education Lottery officials suspended sales of all "Holiday Cash Add-A-Play" games after a glitch had potentially hundreds of people thinking they won $500 on Christmas.
Berry kept buying more of the $1 tickets and kept winning.
"Were you and the cashier freaking out?," asked Fox 46 reporter Matt Grant.
"Well he was looking crazy and I was surprised so I said I'm gonna keep playing until they stop me," said Berry.
Lottery officials blame it all on what they call a "programming error" from their computer system vendor, Intralot. The error impacts all South Carolina Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets sold between 5:51 pm and 7:53 pm Christmas.
The mistake went unchecked for more than two hours.
"Did you think at some point something's not right?," asked Grant.
"Yes I did," admitted Berry. "But it's not my fault."
Berry spent around $80 on tickets and says he wants to get paid the $29,000 he feels he's owed.
"I had some winning tickets. A lot of them for Christmas night and I want to cash them in," he told a lottery employee.
"These are all the holiday ones? Right now this game is under investigation," the employee said. "We should have some information by the end of the week by Friday. So check the website."
Lottery officials say they are investigating and suspended sales of the game "until further notice." Officials would not go on camera but said, in a statement, that anyone who purchased a "winning" ticket on Christmas should hold onto it "until the review is completed."
"Everybody should get paid," said Berry. "They get all of our money all the time."
Lottery officials say they will make "a further announcement" at the end of the week.
Berry says he often plays scratch-off tickets. The most he has ever won was $250. With bills to pay, he hopes his luck continues - for real.
"If they pay it's a great Christmas," said Berry.
The South Carolina Education Lottery issued this statement to FOX 46 Charlotte:
The South Carolina Education Lottery's computer system vendor, Intralot, experienced a programming error on Christmas Day that impacted Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets, a $1 terminal-generated instant game. From 5:51 p.m. to 7:53 p.m., the same play symbol was repeated in all nine available play areas on tickets which would result in a top prize of $500. No more than five identical play symbols should appear for a single play. As soon as the issue was identified, the Add-A-Play game was suspended immediately to conduct a throughout investigation. Instant (scratch) tickets and all other lottery games were not affected by this error.
Holiday Cash Add-A-Play game sales and validations will remain suspended until further notice. All players who purchased a Holiday Cash Add-A-Play ticket on Christmas Day during the time period affected are advised to hold on to their ticket(s) until the review is completed. a further announcement will be made at the end of the week.