Skip to main content

The Scratch

Official Nebraska Government Website Official Nebraska Government Website
Post Image

Hand sanitizer: good for keeping healthy, not so good for Lotto tickets

Categories: Behind the Scenes,Lotto

We recently had a player come into our offices with two damaged Pick 3 tickets that he was hoping we could cash for him.

He’d won $100 on Pick 3, but unfortunately he’d gotten some hand sanitizer on the ticket. While trying to wipe it off, he’d smeared away a lot of the numbers and half of the barcode from the thermal paper.

A Nebraska Pick 3 ticket damaged by hand sanitizer.

The ticket had become nearly illegible and only a small amount of information remained visible. That’s when our team got to work.

First, we sent the ticket back to our accounting department where it was inspected for any remaining data.

“Some kind of liquid got on there and basically it wiped the numbers completely off,” accountant Drew Littrell said. “I’ve seen it before with hairspray. We were able to go into the database and figure out what was going on.”

The first few numbers were readable, Drew said, and so was the retailer location where the player bought his ticket, as well as the date it was purchased. If those had been damaged, there wouldn’t have been much we could do.

After seeing there should be a way to figure out exactly where and when this ticket was purchased, Drew passed it on to our investigations team.  

“We know every transaction that’s printed,” investigator Cheri Knuth said. “So long as we have enough information left on the ticket, we can check it.”

Cheri ran all the Pick 3 activity from the retailer’s location for the day it was purchased. There were only three five dollar transactions that day, and knew that two of them were from the player with the damaged tickets.

They were able to narrow it down, thanks to the remaining numbers on the damaged tickets and pay the player his $100.

Cheri said they don’t get a lot of damaged Lotto tickets coming through the office. Drew said he mostly sees damaged Scratch tickets, but Lotto tickets are rare because they’re surprisingly hardy.

The thermal paper Lotto tickets are printed on is coated with a material that changes color when it’s exposed to heat. There’s a top coating that protects the paper from damage from UV light, water and oil, as well as several other things.

A Nebraska Pick 3 ticket damaged by hand sanitizer.

Some sources of heat can make a Lotto ticket unreadable, though it has to be pretty hot. Even quickly running a fingernail across the surface of a ticket is enough to leave a black line.

Unfortunately, thermal paper is also very reactive to alcohol, which causes the ink to smear. While it’s good to clean your hands after interactions with the public, try your best to avoid immediately handling a ticket right after using hand sanitizer.

Remember, if you do damage a ticket, let us know right away and we can do our best to make sure you get your winnings.

November 4, 2020

No comments yet


Official Nebraska State Government Home Page  | Privacy Policy  | Security Policy  | About Us
* Copyright 2003-Present, Nebraska Lottery. All names, logos and information contained within these pages are meant for personal use only and may not be reproduced or distributed without the expressed written consent of the Nebraska Lottery. Winning numbers are updated daily immediately following the drawings. Other pages on this site are updated periodically. Efforts are made to ensure accuracy, but the Nebraska Lottery cannot guarantee the information displayed here. Contact the Nebraska Lottery or visit a Nebraska Lottery retailer for actual winning numbers. In the event of a discrepancy between the information contained on these pages and the official winning numbers list, the latter shall prevail.