Lottery Number Misprint Causes Heartbreak for California Woman

Sep 15, 2011 4:50pm

A newspaper misprint caused heartbreak for a California woman who thought she had hit the jackpot.

Elida Betancourt, 69, plays the lottery four times a week and on Tuesday morning her ticket matched the numbers in the local paper for the $54 million Mega Millions lottery.

After double and triple checking, she began to cry and scream. Her son was washing up and rushed into the living room when he heard his mother screaming.

“I thought something had happened to her, that she was having a heart attack or something,” her son, Ray Betancourt, told ABCNews.com.

“She had tears in her eyes. She was crying and saying, ‘I won the lottery! I won the lottery!’” Betancourt said of his mother’s reaction. “And I said, ‘Oh my God! I can’t believe this, mom. It’s a prayer from God. It’s from Dad.”

Betancourt lost her husband six weeks ago and the family immediately thought the lottery win was a gift from Oscar Betancourt. With a leaky roof and California’s rainy months fast approaching, the family thought all of their worries were over. The couple used to spend $100 a week playing the lottery together.

The Betancourts began calling extended family members to come over and celebrate. Amid the excitement, Ray and his sister, Anita, decided they should go to the Fresno, Calif., store where they bought the ticket and check the numbers. Much to their surprise, the numbers didn’t match up.

They called the local newspaper, the Fresno Bee, and the paper discovered it had made a mistake. It had printed last Friday’s numbers by mistake. The paper called later to apologize, but that was of little comfort to the disappointed Betancourt family.

“I didn’t know what to think because I was so excited, because of all the money and then all of a sudden the numbers were not the ones,” Elida Betancourt told ABC’s Fresno affiliate, KFSN. She said the experience was “very, very painful, very painful. You can imagine that.”

“It broke her heart. Everything came to a halt,” Ray Betancourt said. “No more high. Nothing.”

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