published Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Missing $50,000 lottery-winning ticket returned

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It was just an ordinary envelope delivered in the mail to the Tennessee Lottery’s headquarters in Nashville. But when lottery officials looked inside, they found a winning ticket worth $50,000. Luckily for John Holder of Columbia, his signature was on the back of the ticket.

“I’m speechless,” Holder, 45, a former roofer, said in a news release from the Tennessee Lottery Corp. “It’s good to know someone had a conscience and decided to give this back to me.”

The white, letter-sized envelope carrying the winning ticket lacked a return address and had the number “50,000” written on the outside. No message was included other than the words “lost and found” written on a piece of notebook paper folded inside. It was postmarked Nashville, Tenn.

After verifying the signature and Holder’s identification, the ticket was validated. Lottery officials then awarded him his prize.

“Thankfully, Holder followed the recommendation from the store clerk where the ticket was purchased and signed it on the back,” said Rebecca Hargrove, president and CEO of the Lottery Corp. “We’re delighted this all worked out, and it’s a great lesson for all our winners. Always sign your ticket,” she added.

“If the clerk hadn’t told me to sign it I wouldn’t have and someone else would have this money,” said Holder. “This has been an incredible ride.”

Holder purchased the $2 “Jumbo Bucks” instant ticket at Columbia Citco on Sept. 2. Following the excitement of his win, Holder realized the ticket was missing and reported it as possibly stolen. While Columbia Police officials investigated the matter, the anonymous envelope arrived.

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