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A Key Biscayne woman said a winning lottery ticket ended up being switched for a losing one after she presented it to a store clerk at the Winn-Dixie grocery store. 

A Winn-Dixie manager on Saturday disputed the claim. 

Andrea Mata  told Key Biscayne police she visited Winn-Dixie Jan. 25 to check “about 10 tickets,” handing them to the lottery machine attendant for verification of any potential winners.

Mata told police the computer screen facing customers showed she had a winning ticket worth $7,000. 

The female attendant, Mata told the Independent in an interview  Saturday, couldn’t see the computer screen read out of the winning ticket because it faces out from the kiosk. 

The attendant asked her the amount of the prize before requesting the winning ticket back in order to print out directions to the Florida Lottery district office where the money could be collected, Mata said. The police report included a photo of one ticket showing a purchase date of August 2022. 

Mata said she was with her nephew, a toddler, and was distracted when the clerk handed her back the directions to the district office and just one ticket – which she presumed was the winner.

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“Upon reaching the Florida District, Andrea was informed that the lottery ticket she possessed was not the winning one,” according to the police report. “Andrea suspects that the attendant did not return the actual winning ticket.”

Mata returned to the store  and asked to see security camera footage of her handing over tickets to the clerk but she said a manager refused her request. 

“They were really mean,” she said in an interview Saturday morning.

Mata, who is a native of Guatemala, said she feels the ticket was swapped out deliberately. 

“I just wanted for the lady to learn that I went to the police,” Mata said. “That’s not good to do to someone. So that’s why I filed the report.”

Police Chief Frank Sousa said his department has turned over its findings to the Florida Lottery – which includes a security photo of Mata with her nephew at the Winn-Dixie lottery kiosk and presumably the non-winning Mega Millions ticket. 

There is no indication police interviewed the Winn-Dixie employee.

A manager at Winn-Dixie Key Biscayne, who would only identify herself as Rosely, said that the Mata’s claim is not borne out by store records.

“We already spoke to corporate, looked at the video and everything,” the manager said. “There is nothing in the system that says she won anything.”

The manager went on to say, “I’m not saying the customer is lying but there’s nothing in the system. Maybe it was a mistake or confusion.”

The Florida Lottery did not return phone calls or emails. 

When asked how she feels about what happened, all Mata could say is, “Like bad – really bad.”

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.