Prius raffle winner announced after ticket snafu

The winner of the ninth annual Claremont Educational Foundation’s Prius raffle was announced Wednesday, weeks after the first name drawn was disqualified.

Ginny Stewart, a Rancho Cucamonga resident who works for the Claremont Unified School District, was declared the winner of the raffle on the morning of May 21 at Claremont Toyota, according to a news release from CEF.

Ms. Stewart’s win was announced during classified employee appreciation week at the school district and on the same day as the “Honor Our Own” appreciation event, CEF said. Ms. Stewart works in student services, and her mother, Cathy Stewart, also works for CUSD.

“I didn’t think I would win the car and was donating to support the Claremont Educational Foundation,” Ms. Stewart said in the release. “I was shocked when I received the phone call informing me that I won the Prius raffle! I am excited to go on this adventure!”

The raffle announcement was delayed by several weeks this year due to what CEF calls a “raffle eligibility issue” with the first drawn ticket. That first ticket belonged to Claremont resident Ariane Mitchell, whose win was forfeited because she put her child’s name on the ticket.

Raffle rules state that each person entered must be over the age of 18 to win the car.

Ms. Mitchell characterized it as an “unfortunate situation.” She told the COURIER that she bought two raffle tickets, one with her name on it and the other with her son Trevor’. She called placing her son’s name on a ticket a “whimsical decision,” and one that she claims other parents have done before.

“Maybe it would be good luck or honoring [my son] in some way,” she said.

The ticket with her son’s name was ultimately drawn on April 28, and she received a text message from CEF congratulating her. But after further scrutiny, the win was called into question.

“Someone from CEF said, ‘Well, you won but your son’s name was on it. Unless you can prove he is over 18, you’ll have to forfeit the ticket,’” Ms. Mitchell said.

Part of the ticket stub clearly states entrants have to be over 18 to participate, but Ms. Mitchell says she didn’t see it, and the bottom of the ticket, which was entered into the raffle, didn’t have any language about that rule.

She claimed she bought the ticket herself, but ultimately it was the name on the ticket that mattered.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” she said.

CEF President Amy Weiler wrote a letter to Ms. Mitchell on May 15, stating that after a review of CEF’s published rules and in consultation with the foundation’s attorney, the ticket was deemed forfeited because Trevor is a minor.

“I understand that this situation is disappointing to Trevor and your family,” Ms. Weiler wrote. “I encourage you to keep in mind the purpose of the raffle, which is to raise funds in support of students in Claremont schools. Your past and present support of CEF is deeply and genuinely appreciated.”

As with most cash prizes, the winner will need to sign a completed W2-G form before taking procession of the prize.

In addition to state and local taxes, the winner of a prize worth more than $5,000 is required, by law, to pay federal taxes. At the end of the year, winners will receive a Form 1099, which indicates the declared value of the prize.

“CEF’s contest is registered as an official non-profit raffle with the state of California and is conducted in accordance with CEF’s official board-adopted rules,” the press release stated.

Ms. Mitchell believes the rules should be more clearly stated in the future.

“I don’t think this should happen to anyone else,” she said.

—Matthew Bramlett


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