By Kurtis Ming

MODESTO (CBS13) – A Modesto great-grandmother has been waiting nearly three months for her $30,000 payout. She hit the jackpot twice in one week on two different scratcher tickets. The odds of that happening? Roughly 1 in 8 million. But she hasn’t been so lucky collecting.

“I started crying. My gosh, nothing like that ever happens to me.” Linda Armstrong said.

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She won $20,000 on an Ultimate Millions scratcher ticket in April. A week later, Armstrong won $10,000 on a Money Mania scratcher.

She quickly made plans.

“I just had a great-grandson in the end of May. When I get my money I’m going to go up and see my great-grandson.” Armstrong said.

But more than three months later, she still had no winnings to spend.

“I mean, it’s your money once you win it, right?” Armstrong said.

It turns out, collecting lottery winnings above $600 is a lengthy process. You attach your signed ticket to a claim form and submit it. The lottery then investigates to ensure it’s a legitimate win. They then check with agencies to see if you owe money, debts like back taxes, or child support, which they deduct.

The Lottery’s Winners Handbook says a check “should arrive approximately six to eight weeks from your claim date.”

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But in late June, it put out this advisory saying, “…it may take 10 to 16 weeks…” due to “temporary changes to Lottery operations during the pandemic.”

Linda said she then was told it would be 18 weeks.

“I’d like to get some answers for why they think they’re allowed to do this,” Armstrong said.

We asked the Lottery where Armstrong’s tickets were in the process and when she’d get her checks, but they would not say. The agency said, “…staff is working overtime to decrease processing time.”

Three days after we got involved, Linda finally got her checks in the mail, ending her 15-week wait.

“I think it’s ridiculous you have to sit and wait like you’re a beggar,” Armstrong said.

The Lottery said it’s asking players for patience. We asked when to expect normal processing times. They said, “…later this year.”

Here’s their full statement:

“The California Lottery team is working diligently to return claim processing times back to normal. Currently, processing times are shortening and anticipate them to be back to normal later this year. We thank players for their patience and understanding.”

  • Click here to read the Winners’ Handbook.
  • Click here to read the update on wait times.
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