Missouri lost a court case Tuesday and I couldn't be happier. Paul Barnett of Dyersburg, Tenn., bought a Powerball lottery ticket in Missouri a while back and, like many of us, promptly forgot about the darned thing. If he's like me, it was wedged above his sun visor collecting dust. But Paul has a wife and wives being how they are, she found the ticket sometime later.
Turns out that Barnett had won $100,000 on the ticket. Trouble is, the state's deadline to claim the prize had passed and the Missouri State Lottery Commission refused to honor the prize.
So Barnett hired an attorney and went to court against the state of Missouri. This week the court told the state of Missouri to pay Barnett despite the lapse in time. In fine print far too small to read, the lottery ticket says you have 180 days to claim your prize. But the court said you probably wouldn't know that until after you had purchased your ticket and so they ordered Missouri to fork over the cash.
Come to find out, lottery officials had routinely paid smaller tickets past the deadline but they had never been presented with a whopper like Barnett found. And even though the state had nearly $8 million unclaimed lottery winnings last year, the Missouri commission balked at shelling out $100 grand to Barnett.
I'm glad our state lost this court case. Just how cheap can we look? The man paid his money and should claim his prize.
Attorney General Jay Nixon's office is considering an appeal. But Nixon is also running for higher office in two years. He'd be well advised to ignore an appeal and order the lottery to pay Barnett his prize.
I'm not sure if the Lottery Commission was interested in enforcing the deadline rule or just a tad bit greedy to keep the cash in Missouri. Either way, we come out looking like a bunch of cheap hustlers. The only way to change that image is to award the prize in a grand ceremony and thank Mr. Barnett for buying a ticket to help fund education in Missouri.