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Mega Millions host John Crow reads wrong number, and some lottery players cash in on flub


With the Mega Millions jackpot at an estimated $86 million, host John Crow hoped the right numbers could change lives, or at least bring some extra cash, for a few lucky players.

“Let’s see if I can make you a millionaire tonight,” Crow said Tuesday.

But that night would be very different from others — and potentially anguishing for Mega Millions players. After correctly calling the first five numbers — 15, 19, 20, 61 and 70 — Crow called the gold Mega Ball.

“The gold Mega Ball is 6,” he said, with a chyron displaying the ball.

The problem? The ball was actually a 9 with a line drawn under it to differentiate it from 6 — but mistakenly identified as it spun after being selected. Mega Millions soon apologized for the error, and some prize payments were paused because of the flub. A YouTube video of the drawing posted to the Mega Millions channel includes a correction noting the mistake.

“On May 10, 2022, the host of the Mega Millions drawing incorrectly called the Mega Ball a 6 instead of a 9. The 9 ball was drawn into the chamber and is the official result,” the organization said in a statement. “We apologize for the confusion.”

While no one won the estimated $86 million jackpot Tuesday, players still cashed in on the errant call. In every state except California, Mega Millions pays $2 for tickets if the player matches just the gold Mega Ball, and $4 for tickets with the gold ball and one correct number. Players who match the gold ball with two, three or four balls can win prizes between $10 and $10,000, according to the lottery.

In New York, some players who thought they had won prizes for correctly guessing the Mega Ball had already claimed thousands of dollars in payments based on the wrong number.

“Due to human error relating to the May 10, 2022 Mega Millions draw, the New York Lottery paid a total of $5,538 to players who presented tickets with the incorrect winning number to retailers before approximately 10 a.m. on May 11,” the organization said in a statement posted to its website. “This payment was recouped automatically via a Lottery account for uncashed tickets. There is no impact on aid to education or taxpayer funds.”

New York Lottery officials said that after they “temporarily suspended prize payments,” Mega Millions prize payouts resumed at retailers.

Crow did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. Lottery officials pointed The Washington Post to their statement from earlier this week.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 45 states, as well as the District and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 287,000 players correctly guessed the gold Mega Ball as 9 in Tuesday’s drawing and won prizes of at least $2, according to Mega Millions.

Lottery winners have benefited from mistakes in numerous ways in recent years. A Detroit man won $2 million in 2020 after he was accidentally sold a $20 lottery ticket instead of the $10 he requested, according to the Associated Press. A Southern California woman said “some rude person” bumped into her, which caused her to push the wrong button at a lottery vending machine last November. All was forgiven when LaQuedra Edwards discovered that she had won a $10 million prize.

A woman won $10 million in the lottery — by accident

It isn’t unknown for people to cash in on incorrect lottery numbers. In 2002, the Maryland State Lottery Agency came under fire for allowing $112,000 worth of invalid scratch-off lottery tickets to be cashed and paying $86,000 to nonwinners after incorrect winning numbers were posted on the Internet on three occasions.

An actor and host based out of Atlanta, Crow has appeared in an array of roles on TV shows and movies such as “Flight,” “I, Tonya” and “Rampage,” according to his résumé. In 2008, he beat out more than 4,700 applicants to become the host of the Georgia Lottery, which has had him calling the numbers for Mega Millions for about 14 years, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Crow hosted the largest-ever U.S. lottery jackpot when he read the Mega Millions numbers for the $1.6 billion prize announced in October 2018, his résumé says.

Since no one won the $86 million jackpot earlier this week, the estimated Friday night jackpot is $99 million.

Though Crow has yet to formally comment on this week’s flub, fans have expressed their support for him.

“Everyone makes mistakes. Be grateful you’re not a brain surgeon,” one fan tweeted at him Friday. “This ain’t the big deal everyone’s making it.”

Crow replied that he appreciated their concern, with an emoji of a face holding back tears.

“All is good,” he tweeted.

He added that he’d be back on the air and ready to see if he can once again make someone a millionaire: “‘See’ you tonight for the draw.”

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