LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Most of us would be happy to walk away from Churchill Downs on Derby day with a couple hundred dollars in winnings. An NFL star hit pay dirt on his Derby bets, winning many times that, totaling more than $57,000. Now, Churchill Downs wants some of the money back because it made a mistake -- a really big one.
Anyone who had the longshot Commanding Curve in their Derby bets won some cash. Denver Broncos star Wes Welker knows all about winning and he told NBCSN's Dan Patrick Friday, his Derby bets came in big.
"Pretty much everything: exacta, trifecta, superfecta, I had 17 across the board. You name the bet, I pretty much had it," Welker said.
It was enough for him to hand out cash to fans who ran into him after the big race.
"People wanted like autographs and pictures and stuff coming down, so I was like, 'Hey, wouldn't $100 be nicer?'" said Welker.
Friday we learned Churchill Downs said that money Welker was handing out was not all supposed to be his. More than $14,000, Churchill said, was given by mistake when Welker's group cashed what he called a "wad" of winning tickets.
"After the first few tickets, the terminal malfunctioned and the screen went clear," explained Darren Rogers, with Churchill Downs. "(A) tote technician was called, they got it back up and running, they processed the rest of the winning tickets."
Rogers said the mutuel clerk and tote technician then they added the total of those first few tickets, essentially paying them twice since the machine had remembered the winnings from them as well. On May 8, Churchill sent the friend of Welker who cashed the tickets a letter outlining the mistake: $14,898.55.
"We had no clue," Welker told Patrick Friday. "They could have underpaid us and we wouldn't have known.
In its letter, Churchill suggested a repayment could be made using an enclosed envelope.
When Patrick asked Welker about it on his show, Welker responded, "Yeah, well get in line."
Rogers said, "We're not worried necessarily about the $14,000 overpayment in this situation. That individual, we just hope, comes back to the Kentucky Derby in 2015 and they've got bullets to fire next year."
Churchill said these type of overpayment errors -- ones that can be traced back to a specific person -- happen about once every three years and the letter is standard when it happens.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said according to state laws and regulations, while the track can ask for the money, it cannot require that it be paid back.
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