Man Sues Powerball Lottery After Being Told $340M Win Was A Mistake

A man who thought he had won a $340m Powerball jackpot is suing the lottery after the game’s administrators said their website only showed his numbers as the winning combination by mistake.

Washington DC resident John Cheeks purchased a Powerball lottery ticket at the center of the dispute on 6 January 2023. Although Cheeks did not see the Powerball drawing the following day, he saw his numbers posted on the DC lottery’s website two days later.

The digits on his ticket were a combination of family birthdays and other numbers of personal significance. Speaking to NBC Washington, Cheeks said, “I got a little excited, but I didn’t shout, I didn’t scream. I just politely called a friend. I took a picture as he recommended, and that was it. I went to sleep.”

But then things for Cheeks took a turn for the worse when he went to the office of lottery and gaming (OLG) to redeem his ticket. Court documents allege that administrators denied Cheeks’ jackpot claim, saying in a letter to him: “Petitioner’s prize claim was denied … because the ticket did not validate as a winner by the OLG’s gaming system as required by OLG regulations.”

Cheeks also said that he received an odd request from a claims staffer who allegedly told him, “Hey, this ticket is no good. Just throw it in the trash can.”

Cheeks recalled, “I gave him a stern look. I said, ‘In the trash can?’

‘Oh yeah, just throw it away. You’re not going to get paid. There’s a trash can right there.’”

Cheeks did not discard his ticket. Instead, he put it in a safe deposit box, reached out to an attorney and sued Powerball. Other defendants named in Cheeks’s lawsuit include the Multi-State Lottery Association and game contractor Taoti Enterprises.

In a court declaration, Taoti project manager Brittany Bailey said that on 6 January 2023, the company’s quality assurance team was conducting testing of a task involving a changing of time zones for the Powerball website from Coordinated Universal Time to Eastern Standard Time.

At 12.09pm that day, the Taoti quality assurance team accidentally posted test Powerball numbers on the game’s live website rather than a development environment which mimicked the site but was not viewable to the public, according to Bailey.

Bailey added that the test numbers were not the numbers drawn for the 7 January 2023 Powerball drawing. They also could not have been the numbers drawn because the incorrect ones were posted on 6 January, a day prior to the drawing.

On 8 January, the incorrect lottery numbers were listed next to the actual winning numbers on the DC Lottery website. Upon realizing the error on 9 January, the Taoti development team took down the numbers, Bailey said.

Despite Taoti’s claims, Cheeks’s attorney Richard Evans told NBC Washington: “They have said that one of their contractors made a mistake. … I haven’t seen the evidence to support that yet.”

He went on to add, “Even if a mistake was made, the question becomes: What do you do about that?”

Evans argued that there is precedent for such a situation. Last November, the Iowa Lottery posted the wrong Powerball numbers, citing a “human reporting error”. However, the Iowa Lottery said that the temporary winners – people who had the numbers at issue – could keep their prizes, which ranged from $4 to $200.

“A mistake was admitted to by a contractor and they paid the winnings out,” Evans said.

Powerball is played in 45 states as well as DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. A Powerball ticket costs $2 in most states, and players can pick their own numbers or have a computer make the selection.

The odds of winning the jackpot are staggeringly small, at one in 292.2m.

Original article

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