Topeka Kansas Department of Revenue officials acknowledge they made "a huge mistake" when they told the wrong man he had won a contest to redesign the state's personalized license plates.
For a few hours on Wednesday, graphic design artist Bill Weaver of Salina believed his design had been chosen from five finalists to be the new design for the plates.
Later Wednesday, the Revenue Department notified Weaver that another person had won and his entry came in third. The contest was organized by the Division of Motor Vehicles, which is overseen by the Revenue Department.
The winner was actually Rick Moon of Topeka, who was selected by a public vote using either mail or a department Web site.
"Does it scare you the people who control this Web site also control our money?" Weaver said after finding out about the error.
Weaver's silhouetted view of a windmill against the prairie was close to the winning design, which featured a sunset, a windmill, the state seal and the words "America's Heartland."
The personalized license tag is scheduled for production in 2010.
After getting a call at 10 a.m. Wednesday saying he was the winner, Weaver spent the morning notifying friends and speaking to the media. Then he was notified of the mistake.
"I cannot believe a day can go from so bright and having so much fun ... I accept their apology but it doesn't make the hurt go away," he said.
Freda Warfield, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, blamed the error on an office staff member who assigned the winning design to Weaver.
Carmen Alldritt, the director of motor vehicles, called the mistake "an embarrassment."
The winning design received 83,739 votes. The second-place winner got about 46,000 votes and Weaver's plate finished with 42,945 votes.