There are lottery odds and lottery balls.
But lotteries also have oddballs and oddities, as recent news stories show.
Recall the McDonald's worker in Maryland who told reporters her personal ticket, not her pool's, won a piece of March's record Mega Millions jackpot. Mirlande Wilson then said she lost the ticket, only to be proven she was mistaken about ever having it, when three educators from the Baltimore area claimed the prize — and vowed to continue working.
The latest case involves a trashed ticket worth $1 million.
No, it's not a case of finders keepers, an Arkansas judge ruled on Tuesday. Sharon Jones, a habitual trashed-ticket retriever, is not entitled to keep the big bucks she collected for a ticket thrown away at a convenience store in Beebe. Also out of luck: the store's manager, who started the lawsuit, and the store's parent company, which joined the suit.
Player Sharon Duncan seems to be the rightful owner, White County Judge Thomas Hughes ruled, even if surveillance video and the lottery's records don't quite line up about the time of purchase. Duncan said she disposed of the betting slip because a scanner read, "Sorry, not a winner."
Jones' attorney will appeal.
Here are other ways lotteries have recently proved unpredictable.
Ticket was fake, arrest was real. Leandria Williams, of Elgin, Ill., was neither lucky nor good, according to state officials. She was charged last week with wire fraud for falsifying documents after allegedly presenting a bogus ticket and claiming it was one of three that hit the record $656 million jackpot in the March 30 Mega Millions drawing. She allegedly bought the ticket online. Illinois did have one of the winners, but it was purchased in the little town of Red Bud by Merle and Patricia Butler, who said they giggled for four hours after realizing they won.
Store sells six tickets worth $1 million. A Powerball drawing in late April produced eight $1 million winners, and six of the tickets were sold at the same Arizona store. a QuikTrip in Glendale. Apparently, it wasn't just one person playing the same five numbers — 4, 25, 29, 34 and 43 — with different Powerballs, because two people had claimed two of the prizes, as of Tuesday. Speculations: Maybe a filled-out slip got scanned multiple times. Maybe players chose numbers from store displays. They were not machine picks, a lottery official said.
Winner jailed for getting food stamps. In mid-April, Amanda Clayton, 25, was charged with fraud for receiving food stamps and public health insurance after winning $735,000 on a Michigan Lottery game show. She said she thought she was entitled because she was unemployed.
Woman buys 2 tickets, each wins $1 million. Talk about seeing double. A Virginia woman named Virginia Fike stopped at the Olde Stone Truck Stop in early April and bought two tickets. Each won $1 million for matching the first five numbers drawn. "I picked numbers based on my parents' anniversary and their ages at that time, divided by the year they were married," she said.
Court rules in favor of lottery pool. Less recent but also remarkable was the March verdict that Americo Lopes, who claimed a $24 million cash jackpot in 2009, would have to fork over $4 millions to each of five Elizabeth, N.J., coworkers. All six were in a lottery pool, but Lopes claimed he bought the winning ticket with his own money. A jury disagreed.