A Florida woman says she was forced to forfeit her lotto prize after the US Postal Service lost her winning ticket in the mail.
Sue Burgess, of Hernando County, said she was thrilled to discover earlier this summer that she snagged $1,000 in the state’s Second Chance Lottery game.
“I was elated. It was like winning a million dollars to me,” Burgess told MM.
But at the time, she couldn’t claim her winnings at any of the local lottery offices since they were closed due to the pandemic.
She followed the state lottery’s instructions and went to the post office to send in her ticket via certified mail.
Burgess said the ticket, however, never made it to the lottery office in the one-week time frame required to claim the prize.
Her tracking information last showed the ticket in transit on Aug. 12 at a Tallahassee post office.
“They said, ‘We have not received this ticket.’ They said, ‘No ticket, no prize,’” said Burgess, whose prize money went to an alternate winner.
Burgess said she’s frustrated because she could’ve left her ticket in a dropbox at a local lottery office, but she believed that certified mail was the safer and more efficient option.
“That’s why you choose certified mail,” Burgess said. “With COVID, I understand the mail is a little bit slow. But for safety sake, certified mail usually has priority.”
Six weeks later, the winning ticket is still unaccounted for.
The USPS apologized to Burgess and said it’s working with the state lottery to help her cash out her prize.
“We apologize to this specific customer for any inconvenience they may have experienced,” the postal service said.
“In this specific instance, we are continuing to work with the lottery office to confirm receipt of the mailpiece.”
The Florida Lottery said it’s not responsible for mistakes made by the postal service, though it will make an exception for Burgess and pay out her prize if the package shows up postmarked by the original deadline.
“Ms. Burgess’ situation is an unusual circumstance and, to our knowledge, no other winner has experienced a similar issue,” the lottery said.
“Because the Lottery did not receive Ms. Burgess’ ticket within the seven-day claim period, an alternate winner was selected and paid. However, if Ms. Burgess’ package arrives at Florida Lottery Headquarters with a date stamp prior to the original expiration date, our Claims Processing department will process and pay her claim.”