Man sues after $5M lottery prize denied because son bought ticket

Posted at 1:25 AM, Jul 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 01:25:46-04

LONG BEACH, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) – A man is suing the state of California for refusing to pay his $5 million lottery prize because they say his teenage son bought the winning ticket.

The California Lottery Commission deemed one $5 million dollar winning ticket invalid because the person who bought the state lottery scratch-off is only 16 and not legally old enough to play.

The teen’s father, Ward Thomas, filed a lawsuit against the California Lottery Commission and the corporate owners of the Long Beach gas station that sold the ticket.

Ward Thomas says in the lawsuit that he and his son Benjamin went to the Mobil together last October. He sent Benjamin in to exchange winning scratchers for five new ones, one of which was the winning ticket.

The lawsuit accuses the commission and gas station of discharge of mandatory duty, negligence and intentional and negligent representation. No one ever asked his son for identification or stated players had to be 18, Ward Thomas says.

The father claims he, not Benjamin, is the real winner. The elder Thomas was the one who went in to claim the prize.

Legal analyst Steve Meister says the family does not have a strong case.

"I think the family has a losing case. Look, the kid was ineligible to purchase it. It's not the state’s responsibility to now say, ‘OK, because someone let you play, here's your million dollars,’” Meister said.

Neither the store’s management nor the lottery commission would comment on the case, but in general, the commission says they investigate every winner to see if they followed the rules, which includes reviewing security video of the purchase.

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