Michigan Lottery apologizes for costly game gaffe

Daily 3 and Daily 4 players lose out on bonus after on-air mistake

Michigan Lottery
A sign graces the door of the Michigan Lottery office in Lansing. (March 14, 2017)


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — When it comes to live TV, mistakes can and will happen. Remember this year’s Academy Awards when the wrong film was announced for Best Picture?

So it might not come as a surprise that Michigan Lottery Public Relations Director Jeff Holyfield was feeling a little like the Warren Beatty of lottery drawings Tuesday.

“Well, thank heavens it wasn’t that bad,” Holyfield said, laughing at the comparison.

A technical error during Monday night’s Daily 3 and Daily 4 drawings told players it was a special bonus drawing, which meant even more prize money for those with the winning numbers.

To understand how the mistake happened, you must understand the production behind the drawings. The only live element is the number ball selection — both the graphics and result announcements are computer-generated. A lottery manager watches the live drawing and tells a technician in the control room of a Detroit TV station what the numbers are. The technician types the result into a computer and the computer creates the announcement.

Monday night’s problem began before the actual drawing, when the wrong opening graphic for the TV drawing was ordered.

“Somehow, there was a miscommunication… (and an) indicator that it was a bonus draw ran, even though it wasn’t supposed to,” said Holyfield. “Obviously, (it’s) our mistake. We’re already working on a process to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Holyfield said the state can’t just pay the bonus because all lottery games are governed by a strict set of rules. The results of the drawing and prize awards can’t be changed.

“It’s not feasible to go back after the drawing and say, ‘Oops, we’d like to do this,'” said Holyfield.

The Daily drawings are among the most popular of Michigan Lottery games, accounting for about 25 percent of annual plays. The Michigan Lottery said 3,200 people played different variations of the Daily 3 and Daily 4 Monday night.

The top winners still walked away with $500 for the Daily 3 and $1,250 for the Daily 4. The bonus would have given them another $100 in the Daily 3 and another $250 for the Daily 4 top prizes.

“All we can do is apologize for that, and hope that players will recognize the fact that the system as it’s set up is run by humans. And human sometimes make errors,” said Holyfield.