These lottery players won their prizes by accident

These players won big lottery prizes completely by accident.

These lottery players won their prizes by accident
Miriam Long holding her $1 million Powerball check after accidentally winning the lottery. Photograph credit to the Virginia Lottery.

Usually, when we do something wrong, we don't like the results. Maybe you left your headlights on, and your car battery died. Or you put the wrong address into your navigation system and ended up far from your intended destination.

We all make mistakes, but most of us don't get rich because of them. However, sometimes, doing the wrong thing can be the best thing that ever happens to you.

These lottery players scored big wins because things didn't go according to plan.

Power mistake

Have you ever asked for a Pepsi when you wanted a Coke? Or have you ordered a regular coffee from a barista when you meant to say iced? It's easy to ask for one thing when you really meant another, but most of us will never win one million dollars for asking for the wrong thing.

But most of us aren't Miriam Long.

Long is a lottery player from Virginia who drove to her local CVS in Blacksburg to purchase a ticket for the Mega Millions drawing, which at the time had a $900 million jackpot. However, while using the store's lottery ticket machine, she pushed the wrong button and ended up with a March 18 Powerball drawing ticket instead.

As it turns out, this would be the most profitable mistake of her life because the numbers she meant to enter into the Mega Millions drawing matched the five white balls in the Powerball drawing, which won her a prize of one million dollars.

Long told lottery officials:

It's the best mistake of my life. My heart was pounding. It's overwhelming.

The CVS that sold her ticket will also receive $10,000 as a bonus.

10 X 1

Sometimes, the mistake someone else makes can change your life forever.

Michael Sopejstal lives in Illinois, but his favorite restaurant is in Michigan. Once every few weeks, he drives hundreds of miles to get his favorite meal, passing through Indiana on the way. Each time he makes this journey, he stops to buy a Lucky for Life ticket with numbers for ten to twenty different drawings.

Lucky for Life requires players to pick five numbers between one and forty-eight plus an additional Lucky Ball number between one and eighteen. Tickets cost $2 each, and the top prize is $1,000 a day for the rest of the winner's life.

On this trip, he stopped at the GoLo gas station to pick up his usual ticket when the clerk made an error. Instead of printing a ticket for ten different drawings, he printed all of Sopejstal's numbers for one drawing.

The clerk offered to replace it, but he decided to take his chances and keep the ticket. This ended up being one of the best decisions of his life because one of his lines matched the first five balls but missed the lucky ball.

He told Lottery officials:

I checked my ticket one morning and saw that I had won $25,000 a year for life. I immediately started thinking about all the things I could do with the money and whether I wanted to take the lump sum or annuity option. It was an amazing feeling!

Ultimately, he decided to take the lump sum payout, and he plans to use the money to travel and save for his retirement.

Mega mistake

Sometimes, when things go wrong, they also have a way of going right at the same time. At least that was the case for Josh Buster of Iowa, who took home a major reward because of a minor error by a store clerk.

Buster, a line cook from West Burlington, wanted to purchase five easy pick plays for the April 15 Mega Millions drawing, but the clerk accidentally printed just one. He then asked for his remaining four picks, and he thinks that this small mistake led him to a big win.

Buster told Iowa Lottery officials:

I feel like that changed the numbers that I would have gotten if he had put them all on one instead of making that mistake.

After scanning his tickets in the official state lottery app, he realized he had correctly picked the five white numbers, meaning he won one million dollars. He said:

I don't usually have good luck, so I thought it was a mistake and there was going to be an error. So I Googled the lottery numbers to make sure I had the right ones, and I did! And then the rest of the day, I'm just waiting to wake up from a dream.

Buster said that he plans to use the money to pay off his car and his mother's house and then save the rest for retirement.

He added that the win will have a massive impact on his life:

It will take away a lot of my stress—no more of the financial worries…I always wanted to! I never thought I would, though. But I kept playing.

He purchased his ticket from the MK Mini Mart in West Burlington. The store received a $1,000 sales commission bonus for selling the winning ticket.

Typo FTW

If there's one recurring theme from these stories, it's that if your clerk makes a mistake with your ticket, don't change it. One Maryland woman won a major prize due to an error made by her local lottery retailer.

The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, stopped by her local convenience store to pick up a Powerball ticket for the April 10, 2024 drawing. She gave the clerk her numbers, but he misheard her and wrote down the wrong ones. The clerk offered to print a new ticket, but she decided to keep the mistake ticket, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life.

Her first ticket correctly picked four white numbers and the Powerball number, which normally would be good for $50,000. However, she activated the Power Play option, and her win doubled to $100,000.

And just to add to her good fortune, she later purchased a second ticket with the same numbers and a Power Play and won another $100,000 from the same drawing.

She told Maryland Lottery officials that she had actually forgotten about her tickets until her daughter encouraged her to check if she had the winning numbers. The Gaithersburg resident dug the tickets out of her purse and saw that the clerk's mistake had won her $200,000.

She told lottery officials:

I scanned my winners about 10 to 12 times because I really couldn't believe I had won that much money. I felt my body shaking, so I dropped to my knees and thanked God.

The woman said that she plans to invest and save her winnings and that only her daughters know about her big win. The winner said:

I guess I am a lucky woman, my mother used to tell me that. It finally feels like it today.

Just one more thing

Of course, sometimes it's the player's mistake that leads to fortune, as was the case of a South Carolina resident who has chosen to remain anonymous. His path to a seven-figure win began with being forgetful over his lunch break.

The man says he dropped into the Stop-A-Mint in Greenville to pick up some Powerball tickets for an April 2024 drawing. However, when he returned to work, he forgot to take his play slips with him. On his next break, he returned to the convenience store to pick them up, and on a whim, he decided to get a few scratch-off tickets as well.

He bought two $1,000,000 Money Maker games and started to scratch. His first ticket was worth $20, which meant his other tickets were paid for. His second ticket was worth $1,000,000, which meant that his retirement was paid for.

The man was blown away by his good fortune:

I was in shock. If the clerk had given me my slips, I wouldn't have had a reason to go back. I told my boss to pinch me.

Despite his new fortune, he said that he wasn't going to quit his job and that he planned to save most of his big win for the future.

To play $1,000,000 Money Maker, players must match their 20 numbers to the game's five winning numbers to win the corresponding prize. Find a Money Stack symbol, and you'll win that prize instantly. Uncover a MAKER symbol, and you'll win all 20 awards on the ticket.

The game launched just three months ago and still has two million dollar prizes left to claim.

What's your number

Certain numbers are important to get right when you're married, such as your anniversary or your partner's birthday. But for one lucky Maryland lottery player, messing up an important number was his key to riches.

The Hanford County man thought he had missed his opportunity when he saw the winning numbers for a Pick 5 drawing, which matched his license plate. He decided to play the following week's drawing and used his wife's license plate numbers to fill out the play slip.

The man told lottery officials:

It was killing me that I'd missed out on my plate. So, I decided to play my wife's tag numbers.

When he checked his ticket, he saw that he had accidentally written his wife's plate numbers in the wrong order. However, his small error led to a big win because he matched the winning numbers exactly and collected a $50,000 prize.


Maryland is the state to be if you want a lottery mistake to go in your favor. A man from Prince George's County showed some good humor when a clerk made an error with his ticket and wound up over half a million dollars richer.

The man went to a gas station, intending to buy a Cash4Life ticket for the September 11, 2023 drawing, but the clerk accidentally printed a ticket for the wrong game.

He told state lottery officials:

I gave him the money and said, “I want to buy five Cash4Life tickets.” The attendant made a mistake and gave me a Multi-Match ticket instead. I was like, “Oh, a new guy”. He was so apologetic.

The clerk tried to void the ticket and replace it, but he didn't know how. Instead of blowing up at him, the man accepted his apology and took home the $10 ticket.

A few days after the drawing, he decided to check his numbers.

“On the way home from work that night, I stopped by the retailer and scanned it.” It turned out that his accidental ticket had hit the jackpot for $580,000. He called his wife to share the good news but she thought he was trying to play a joke on her. He laughed:

I took a picture of the message to prove it was true.

The big winner plans to use his new fortune to pay off his family's bills and to launch a new healthcare business that serves geriatric patients. His wife added:

If anyone deserves this, it is him. He is a hard-working man, a good husband and a good father.


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