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Thursday, September 22, 2011
Media Contact:  Kym Gerlock
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Signing his winning ticket paid off for John Holder!

NASHVILLE—It was just an ordinary envelope delivered in the mail to the Tennessee Lottery’s headquarters in Nashville. But when Lottery officials looked inside, they found a winning ticket worth $50,000. Luckily for John Holder of Columbia, his signature was on the back of the ticket.
“I’m speechless,” said Mr. Holder, 45, a former roofer. “It’s good to know someone had a conscience and decided to give this back to me.”
The white, letter-sized envelope carrying the winning ticket lacked a return address and had the number “50,000” written on the outside. No message was included other than the words “lost and found” written on a piece of notebook paper folded inside. It was post-marked Nashville, TN.
After verifying the signature and Mr. Holder’s identification, the ticket was validated. Lottery officials then awarded him his prize.
“Thankfully, Mr. Holder followed the recommendation from the store clerk where the ticket was purchased and signed it on the back,” said Rebecca Hargrove, President and CEO of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. “We’re delighted this all worked out, and it’s a great lesson for all our winners. Always sign your ticket,” she added.
“If the clerk hadn’t told me to sign it I wouldn’t have and someone else would have this money,” said Mr. Holder. “This has been an incredible ride.”
Today was a happy ending after nearly three weeks of unrest for Mr. Holder, who purchased the $2 “Jumbo Bucks” instant ticket at Columbia Citgo, 235 E. James Campbell Blvd on Sept. 2. Following the excitement of his win, Mr. Holder realized the ticket was missing and reported it as possibly stolen. While Columbia Police officials investigated the matter, the anonymous envelope arrived.
About the Tennessee Education Lottery
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation operates entirely from the revenue it generates through the sale of its products. Net proceeds from sales of Lottery tickets, currently averaging over $5 million per week, fund specific education programs, including college scholarships and after-school programs.
Since the Lottery began selling tickets on Jan. 20, 2004, it has raised more than $2 billion for these programs. In addition to the educational beneficiaries, players have won $4.66 billion in prizes and Lottery retailer partners have earned $509 million in retailer commissions.
For more information, please visit For information about Lottery-funded scholarships, visit To see a county-by-county breakdown of the number of students who benefit, visit

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