The California State Lottery is under fire for giving away $212,500 worth of scratch-off tickets on Ellen DeGeneres’ television show in December, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.
DeGeneres had announced that each person in the studio audience would receive a $500 bundle of Scratchers tickets from the lottery.
But now a whistleblower complaint has been filed by some lottery employees, who are claiming it was a “misuse of funds,” according to the newspaper.
The complaint alleges that some giftpacks did not go to the audience and were improperly left with the show's staff.
State Sen. Ling Ling Chang, who already had requested an audit to determine whether lottery money is going as a promised to public schools, said the auditor should also look into the giveaway of Scratchers on DeGeneres’ Dec. 3 show.
“This concerns me because, bottom line, the mission of the California Lottery is to provide supplemental funding to California public schools,” Chang said. “I want to know how this contribution affects supplemental funding to California public schools. Does it help? I don’t think so.”
Chang said the show should have reimbursed the California State Lottery for the scratch-off tickets.
But Russ Lopez, a spokesman for the lottery said: “The Ellen Show offered a unique opportunity to increase consumer awareness of California Lottery’s contributions to public education while helping to drive sales of holiday Scratchers. This promotional opportunity allowed the lottery to achieve significant cost savings compared to buying the equivalent in media exposure via a traditional ad buy.”
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