STATESVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A long-haul trucker who purchased a lottery ticket while passing through North Carolina thought he won big bucks and although the ticket looks like a winner — the bar code on it doesn’t agree.

“I got happy and said ‘Hey, hey, hey…. thank God…Hey, hey hey,”’ said James Kinard.

Kinard said it looked like he had purchased a winning ticket.

It’s a ticket that’s part of the North Carolina Education Lottery’s family of “Fast Play Progressive Games.” Those tickets are printed immediately with possible winning numbers right on them.

The long-haul trucker from Florida had stopped in Statesville and decided to play the 50 times Multiplier Game.

“I didn’t look at my ticket then and there,” he said. After a couple of days on the road, he pulled his ticket out to check.

Under the possible winning numbers for that ticket was a “3.” When he checked to see if any numbers matched up, he saw another “3.”

“I see there was $500 under the “3.” It’s a 50 times multiplier so by my calculations that’s $25,000,” he said.

However, when he tried to cash the ticket, a bar code told the lottery clerk it was not a winner.

“She looks at it and says ‘hmm—that’s supposed to be a winner but it’s not scanning as a winner,'” Kinard said.

The Asheville lottery office copied the ticket and gave Kinard that copy. It kept the original.

“They told me they did a reconstruct of the ticket and can’t tell whether there is supposed to be a number in front of the “3”, he said.

Kinard says the place where he purchased the ticket had trouble printing them and had to change printer rolls.

CBS 17’s consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia noticed a black mark running the length of the copied ticket and asked Kinard if he damaged the ticket.

“That’s something in the printer,” he said. ” It wasn’t ripped or damaged at all.”

It turns out that the black mark was the key to the mystery.

In a written statement, lottery spokesman Van Denton offered a detailed explanation of what happened.

He wrote:

“The black line that unfortunately runs down the side of the ticket obscures the first winning number and makes it appear as a “3”.

However, the lottery knows this is not a winning ticket because when it scans the bar code the gaming system shows it as a non-winning ticket. Despite the printing issue, if this ticket had a prize on it that would be confirmed by scanning the bar code.

If you look closely at the “WINNING NUMBERS” section of the ticket, you see that the dark line causing the smudge cuts off part of the “W” in “WINNING NUMBERS” and the “n” and part of the “u” in the word “number” in the third line of the “HOW TO WIN” box.

Follow the black smudge down the ticket and keep it in the same alignment and you see it then takes out part of the top dotted line above the “WINNING NUMBERS” and part of the bottom dotted line of the “WINNING NUMBERS” box. As you follow the line further down the page, it takes out the first part of the first of seven winning numbers. Keep going down the ticket and it takes out the “J” in “Jackpot” under the No. 14.

All of these anomalies occur in direct alignment with where the leading digit before the “3” would be indicating that the “Winning Number” is not actually a “3.”

When Kinard presented his ticket for review, the lottery did review it and scanned the bar code to determine it was not a winning ticket. Due to the inquiry by CBS 17 on Mr. Kinard’s behalf, a second review was done Wednesday. It also determined Mr. Kinard’s ticket was not a winner.

The lottery certainly understands Mr. Kinard’s question about this ticket. We regret that the printing issue created the impression of a winning ticket when it was not. The lottery would gladly pay Mr. Kinard a prize if the review had determined it was a legitimate winning ticket.

It is not uncommon for players to present tickets to the lottery that have been damaged. We perform about 30 such reviews a month and when tickets have been damaged we can do a reconstruction. If we can determine a ticket is a winner, we pay the prize. Ticket reconstructions have paid prizes ranging from $1 to $1 million.

It does not matter if the ticket has a $1 prize or a $500 prize or a $1 million prize, as long as the lottery can determine a ticket is a legitimate winning ticket we want to make sure our players get the prizes they have won. The lottery does not like to deny paying prizes, but can only pay prizes that are actually won in order to have the funds necessary to pay winning tickets and provide the funds to support education in North Carolina.”