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Phoenix man says lotto purchase gave 2 tickets with identical "random" numbers

KPHO Phoenix logo KPHO Phoenix 8/11/2021
a man standing in front of a refrigerator: Phoenix man claims lotto purchase gave him duplicate tickets. © Source: 3TV/CBS 5

Phoenix man claims lotto purchase gave him duplicate tickets.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Jamil Safdar says it's pretty common for him to drop into a convenience store and buy Arizona Lottery tickets whenever he can. "I play most of the time, and I hope for the big jackpot," he told 3 On Your Side.

And in some cases, Safdar wins. In fact, his photo is posted on the Arizona Lottery's website when he won $2,000 back in 2019. But Safdar says he doesn't choose specific numbers when he plays. Instead, he relies on the computer system's Quick Picks to generate and select his numbers.

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"I usually stay with Quick Picks," he said. "So, whatever random numbers pop out, you play? 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper asked. "Yes, at least they're supposed to be random," Safdar explained.

But on a recent purchase, Safdar says something weird happened.

When buying several Quick Pick tickets for $14, the machine spit out two lottery tickets with the exact same numbers. "So much for being random."

"Statistically, what are the chances of this happening?" Harper asked. "I don't believe it could happen," Safdar said.

But it looks like it did. So, 3 On Your Side asked the Arizona Lottery for an explanation and spoke with Russ Harben, the Lottery's Deputy Director. "It's a rare issue that sometimes happens," Harben told us.

Harben claims there's a logical explanation for the two tickets. He says when Safdar put his money into the lottery machine and started his transaction, there was a hiccup, kind of like a glitch that caused the machine to display an error on the screen.

"If the player wants to continue with the purchase at that point, they're given the opportunity to do that, and at that point, the machine resubmits the prior ticket in order to make sure that ticket went through," Harben explained.

Safdar says he does remember having trouble with the initial transaction but doesn't remember anything about an error popping up on the screen.

Still, Lottery officials say the machine did exactly what it was supposed to have done.

"It was the same information that was submitted on the first attempt, so the ticket was resubmitted with the same numbers on it," Harden said.

As for Safdar, he says he's not really satisfied with the lottery's explanation. "I think there should be an outside investigation to make sure it is really random."

Safdar says in the meantime, he's not going to let the issue stop him from playing the lottery. He says he'll keep playing until one day; he hits the big one.

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