QUIRKY WORLD ... $500k lottery ‘win’ card just wasn’t up to scratch

USA: A New Mexico man who thought he hit the jackpot with a lottery scratch card will not be getting the $500,000 (€422,000) he believed he had won, after officials determined that matches were due to a printing malfunction.

New Mexico Lottery spokeswoman Linda Hamlin said the ticket John Wines bought for $20 at a filling station in Roswell, New Mexico, in December was defective. Wines thought he won $500,000, but a scan of the image’s barcode said the card, for the Ruby 7s game, was not a winner.

In that game, a player scratches two winning numbers at the top of an 8in long card, Hamlin said. The player then has 25 boxes to find a match to one of the winning numbers and learn how much it is worth.

Hamlin said a blocked ink jet caused one digit of a number to be obscured on Wines’ card, leading him to erroneously believe he had won.

Wines has expressed disappointment with the decision not to pay him.

“I mean, if you thought you won $500,000 and somebody tells you that you didn’t, and you can prove to them you did, it’s pretty stressful for somebody to say, ‘No you’re not getting your money,’” Wines said.

The chips are down


Fast-food lovers are mourning the disappearance of McDonald’s golden staple: the French fry.

A recent shortage at the US fast food chain comes as socialist Venezuela grapples with shortfalls of basic goods ranging from medicines to flour due to strict currency controls that stymie imports.

McDonald’s restaurants are coping by replacing the spuds with salad or local fare such as fried yuca or “arepa” corn pancakes — but Golden Arches fans are none too happy about the new meal.

“Hamburgers don’t go with arepas and this salad I accepted doesn’t taste of anything,” moaned student Indira Silva, 27, at a fast-food outlet in affluent eastern Caracas.

“I’m not coming back until the fries do.”

Two cashiers at separate restaurants said fries had been missing for two weeks and that business had dropped as a result. One said French fry imports had ground to a halt for lack of hard currency.

Arcos Dorados SA, McDonald’s Corp’s key operator in Latin America, did not reply to queries about whether Venezuela’s Byzantine three-tiered exchange rate system was to blame.

“There is currently a temporary issue with distribution, which we are trying to resolve,” said Sonia Ruseler, senior director for corporate communications at Arcos Dorados.

Baby brought to hold-up


A Florida man is accused of bringing his five-month-old son to a home burglary attempt, during which he set the baby down so that he could pull a knife on the homeowner.

Corey Mathews, 22, was arrested on charges including assault and child neglect for his role in the attempted burglary , according to the St Petersburg Police Department.

Police said Mathews held his baby in a carseat as he acted as the lookout for another man trying to break into a home.

Mathews yelled upon seeing the homeowner, and the other suspect fled.

The homeowner followed Mathews down an alley, where he put the baby on the ground and threatened the owner with a knife, police said in a statement.

Mathews was still carrying the infant when police later apprehended him.

Police said the child is now in the custody of Mathew’s mother.

Putting its Bigfoot in it


The Arizona department of transportation Facebook post from January 1 reads: “We might have spotted a family of sasquatches on SR 260 near Heber this afternoon. What do you think?”

Accompanying it is a couple of traffic camera photos showing a blurry cluster of figures on the side of the road.

As of yesterday, it had been shared more than 3,700 times and had nearly 1,000 comments.

Spokesman Tom Herrmann says his agency tries to drive traffic to its Twitter account using humour — a strategy that has helped them gain nearly 52,000 followers.

The mysterious figures haven’t budged in days, leading Herrmann to believe they’re something a lot more down-to-Earth than the original post suggests: Shrubbery.

Dressed for arrest


A man wearing a T-shirt with the words “I have drugs” written across the front has been arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

A deputy spotted John Balmer donning the garment at a Kmart store in Hudson, Florida.

The black shirt with white letters read: “Who needs drugs? No, seriously, I have drugs.”

According to an arrest report, Balmer attempted to hand a bag of drugs to someone behind him in line after making eye contact with the deputy. He then dropped the bag to the floor as another deputy approached.

The 50-year-old was taken into custody after marijuana and methamphetamine were found in the bag.


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